The Currajong Autism & Special Needs Group (CASNG) have made their dream of building and installing a Buddy Bench into school playgrounds in the district a reality.
Ten of the colourful playground seats have now been delivered to local schools in Parkes, Peak Hill and Forbes, along with a campaign to teach kids that anyone feeling left out can – and should – find a safe place on the bench.
Children are taught it is their special job of ensuring any child seen sitting on the bench is invited to come and join in their game, teaching them the value of inclusion and helping them to recognise when someone is feeling isolated or left out.
Angela Wilson (Facilitator CASNG) said the Buddy Bench initiative, developed by the members of the Currajong Autism & Special Needs Group early last year, has now been realised with the help of The John Holland Group (principal contractors in the construction of the new Water and Sewerage Treatment Plants in Parkes).
“It started out as a dream for us to provide a Buddy Bench for every Primary School in Parkes and the surrounding areas,” Angela said.
“When Warren Monks (Senior Project Manager, John Holland) heard about our dream, he gave his employee Jodie Goonrey the huge task of finding local businesses or company suppliers to come on board and donate a total of 10 Buddy Benches to our local schools, and she did it!
“We then had Anthony Whitney, of Whitney Welding and Bobcat Hire, build 10 originally-designed, double-sided Buddy Benches for these local businesses and company suppliers to purchase. You could say that it has well and truly been a huge group effort by all.”
Parkes Christian School welcomed the first Buddy Bench in September as an addition to their Sensory Garden.
Anthony Whitney built the Buddy Bench and kindly donated it to Parkes Christian School after helping with the landscaping of the school's Sensory Garden.
The other schools include Parkes East Public School, Middleton Public School, Parkes Public School (one each for both the infants and primary playgrounds), Holy Family School, Peak Hill Public School, St Josephs Primary School Peak Hill, Forbes North Public School, St Laurence's Forbes.