Springwood Elementary School students take a first look at the buddy bench at the school — created by parents and a grandparent, and unveiled Wednesday, June 21 by the school’s parent advisory committee. — Adam Kveton

Parents, grandparent build buddy bench for Springwood school

PAC unveils bench meant to help kids make new friends

A large section of old growth fir is now helping students to make new friends at Springwood Elementary School as a buddy bench.

The SES Parent Advisory Committee unveiled the buddy bench at the school on Wednesday, June 21, after a schoolwide assembly in honour of National Aboriginal Day.

The bench has been on the PAC’s wish list for two years, said vice-chair Karri Kitazaki.

“We had heard about the buddy bench just through media and stuff, and so for the last few years we wanted to do it, and then this year we had a couple parents who volunteered to take the lead,” she said.

The donated log was sawed into a bench by Springwood grandparent Toad Phillips, while Springwood parent Ray Young carved the bench along with finishing help from Mike Brimacombe, with other parents helping behind the scenes and Parksville Heavy Equipment supplying the installation.

Students shouted and clapped as a tarp was removed to reveal the seven-foot long, two-ton bench.

The idea behind a buddy bench is that anyone looking for someone to talk to or play with can take a seat on the bench, and other students will take note and take a seat with them or include them in their activities.

Principal Tony Saremba said the school is very thankful for the work of the buddy bench volunteers, and said he hopes it will be another way his students will give and receive friendship.

The bench is the PAC’s first step toward creating a more inclusive, fun outdoor space at the school, said Kitazaki. The PAC has been running a GoFundMe campaign since February of 2016 to raise funds for more playground equipment.

Since the school went from being a middle school to an elementary school in 2014, only one small playground was built, which the PAC says is not enough for the large school population.

So far, $1,120 of the fundraiser’s $8,000 goal has been donated. The buddy bench was almost no cost to PAC thanks to the efforts of parents and grandparents, said Kitazaki.

For more information on the fundraising, go to www.gofundme.com/evsxtqps.