Military children are no strangers to being the new kid at school and understand all too well the struggles of finding friendship after moving to a new place. Likewise, it can be difficult for students who are already established at their school to find new friends after a friend moves away.
In an attempt to help this problem, Anchored4Life students at Akers School aboard Naval Air Station Lemoore took on a service project to paint “buddy benches” that will be placed on the school’s playground.
“Buddy benches” are designed to help children foster friendships and combat loneliness on the playground. Lonely children can sit on the “buddy bench” and this signals to others that they are looking for friendship.
The Anchored4Life students painted individual slats of the bench that was then assembled around a tree on the playground. They presented their first bench at the school’s Open House on Wednesday night. Two additional benches are scheduled to be placed on the playground by the end of the school year.
Akers Anchored4Life adviser Clare Huff said that their vision was to have the benches fit together like pieces of a puzzle, symbolizing how the students in the community can fit together also.
“We want the benches to be a beacon of friendship on the playground when kids need friendship the most,” said Huff. “This embraces the concept of Anchored4Life.”
Huff launched the student-led club at Akers at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. Children who exhibited strong leadership skills were invited to join Anchored4Life and use those skills to embrace new students, farewell those who were moving away and reach out to children of deployed service members.
Huff will be PCSing herself this summer, but the Anchored4Life program at Akers will continue under the advisement of fourth-grade teacher Kourtney Rhoads.
“The concept we are embracing is resilience through transition,” said Rhoads. “We have current Anchored4Life students who will be moving and students that will move here in the future and become part of Anchored4Life. They will add on and paint slats on the bench, and eventually, we will have students across the globe who have taken part in this.”