Local groups partner to bring Buddy Benches to elementary schools
Goal to provide safe haven from bullying
For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — According to the 2015 Marshfield Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 20 percent of children in the community have been affected by feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and 13 percent of those children have considered harming themselves due to these feelings.
A 2016 Leadership Marshfield project group heard those statistics and decided to try to change them.
“We want kids to feel safe and important,” said Miranda Gregory, a member of the Leadership Marshfield group. “A Buddy Bench is a designated space where kids can find other kids to play with, to help them make friends, and feel less isolated.”
The group is raising funds to purchase and install a Buddy Bench on each playground at Marshfield’s five public elementary schools. The benches will provide a safe place for kids to go if they are being bullied and need help. They are also a place for children to be buddies, spread kindness, and build friendships.
When Paula Jero, executive director of Marshfield Area United Way, heard about the project, she said, “I really love this idea. I definitely think it is appropriate for United Way to become involved in a program like this.” United Way will partner with the Leadership Marshfield group to provide assistance with accounting and tax exempt status.
The Leadership Marshfield group is also coordinating with school counselors and social workers Kimberli Dammann, Lisa Goeppinger, and Joanne Greenlee to create tools to educate children about bullying and how they can use the Buddy Bench to help prevent it. The tools will be integrated into the Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support System being developed throughout the district.
In order to make Buddy Benches happen, the group is reaching out to the community. The group needs to raise almost $3,000 to cover the cost of the benches.
For those interested in contributing to this project, donations are being accepted by Marshfield Area United Way at 156 S. Central Ave. For more information call the United Way at 715-384-9992 or email [email protected]
Leadership Marshfield is a program coordinated through the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry. The Class of 2016 will represent the 24th year of this program.
Members of the Buddy Bench group include Renee Binder of PreventionGenetics, Wendi Brueggen of Marshfield Insurance, Miranda Gregory of Opportunity Development Center, Kristin Weiler of Marshfield Clinic Information Services, Jason King of Citizen State Bank of Loyal, and Charlie Wendlandt of Hawkins and Ash CPA.
For information about Leadership Marshfield, contact Debbie Bauer at 715-384-3454 or [email protected]