Buddy seat at Kialla West Primary School

By Laura Briggs

Kialla West Primary School is bringing in a new way to find a friend.

The school welcomed a new addition to the school yard, the ‘‘buddy seat’’.

Sourced by four members from a Community Leadership Program, the yellow bench seat aims to bring positivity with a different approach.

Community Leadership Program members and student parents Ally DeRooy and Erin Balfour attended a school assembly last Friday to present staff and students with the seat.

Ms DeRooy said the seat would encourage students to be inclusive of others.

‘‘The idea behind the buddy seat is that everybody has a friend.

‘‘So if a student doesn’t have a friend to play with at any time, they can go and sit on the buddy seat and children are being encouraged to go and ask that child to join in on their down-ball game or whatever it is they’re playing,’’ Ms DeRooy said.

Ms Balfour said parents were encouraged to get on board by teaching their child to be proactive in approaching students they saw on the seat.

‘‘It’s not all about the one that’s sitting on the seat — it’s about the kids that are walking past, too,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re trying to encourage them to use their initiative and care for each other.’’

Ms DeRooy said having seen the ‘‘buddy seat’’ concept in metropolitan areas, she was inspired to bring it to Shepparton.

She said the group — including herself, Ms Balfour along with two other members, Liaqat Ali and Ali Al Battaat — was delighted to receive a grant to carry out the project.

‘‘We got given grant money but we’ve actually returned most of it because we managed to get local businesses who were willing to support the initiative,’’ Ms DeRooy said.

She said she was overwhelmed by the generosity shown by Shepparton businesses, including Furphy Foundry, Shepparton Powder Coaters, Trevaskis Engineering, Quality Teams and Bunnings Shepparton, which all donated either goods or their services.

Kialla West Primary School principal Wes Teague said he was thrilled to have the seat donated.

‘‘It reinforces that message of being kind and caring towards other people, which is a message that we promote through the social and emotional learning program we have at this school.’’