Buddy Benches will help teach children to be kind

BY SHARRON HALEY
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 6/8/18

NEW ZION - Need a friend? Feeling lonely or excluded? Sometimes all it takes is one random act of kindness for a child's day to go from bad to great.

Tiffany Myers, along with her husband, Nick, her children, Colin and Evan, and her father, …

This item is available in full to subscribers

Buddy Benches will help teach children to be kind

Posted

NEW ZION - Need a friend? Feeling lonely or excluded? Sometimes all it takes is one random act of kindness for a child's day to go from bad to great.

Tiffany Myers, along with her husband, Nick, her children, Colin and Evan, and her father, Benton Blakely, decided to help youngsters who are dealing with bullying, violence and tragedy in their lives by giving them a place to go when they need someone to talk to or just someone to sit beside.

The family began erecting Buddy Benches, "seats that are built with the idea that small acts of kindness can go a long way."

"This is a project that is near and dear to our hearts," Myers said. "With the issue of bullying on the forefront of parents' minds, Buddy Benches could be a solution, or at the very least helpful, at preventing those situations."

According to Myers, their plan is to place the benches on school playgrounds and teach students how they are to be used.

"If students are in need of a friend or are feeling lonely or excluded, they are taught to take a seat on the Buddy Bench," she said. "Students are also taught that if they see a classmate seated on one of the benches, that they should approach that student and ask them to play. It's a wonderful concept that we've seen at other schools, and we wanted Walker-Gamble Elementary kids to have them as well."

Myers said she approached her husband, who is a volunteer firefighter at Shaw Air Force Base and Clarendon County, and her father, who is a member of Clarendon County Council, about constructing the benches.

"They were quick to volunteer their time and resources to help," Myers added.

"This is a great idea, and we are happy to help with such a worthwhile cause," Blakely said. "It's also great to have the whole family involved in the project. Three generations working together on a family project is always fun; helping our community is an extra bonus."

Myers' family along with her father have donated benches to Walker-Gamble Elementary School, where the school's art teacher, Jesse Williams, has agreed to take the lead with painting and decorating them.

"Violent incidents and tragedies keep occurring in our country, and it's heartbreaking and terrifying," she said. "I believe if we catch kids early enough, maybe we can prevent some of these tragedies from occurring."

Myers said that the theme of the benches is inspired by an anonymous quote, "If you can be anything be kind."