Buddy Bench in Place at St Mary Catholic School in Mount Forest

MOUNT FOREST – The staff and students of St. Mary Catholic School now have a Buddy Bench to call their own.

Last Thursday morning Paula Coffey and Myrna Hutchison from Get In Touch For Hutch were at the school to present the school with their Buddy Bench, which the students can sit on if their feel sad or lonely. The idea behind the bench is that other kids or staff members will see this, and try to include that person in conversation or play to show them “you are never alone.”

In her presentation to the school, Hutchison referred to the Disney Pixar movie to explain the different emotions we feel, and that is okay to feel these emotions.

“Sometimes things happen in life that make us sad, happy, angry, scared… You need to know that it is perfectly okay to not have a perfect day every day,” she said. “There will always be someone there to help you, talk to you. You are never alone.”

Hutchison said that St. Mary’s Buddy Bench is extra special because they are the first school in Mount Forest to get one.

“Hopefully this is the first Buddy Bench of many for Mount Forest,” she said.

Hutchison also encouraged the teachers at the school to use the bench.

“Teachers are human, and they have bad days too,” she said. “I encourage you, if you are having a bad day, to sit down on the Buddy Bench and have a conversation with someone.”

St. Mary principal Julie Vandenheuvel said that in September the school will be doing some Buddy Bench programming, as well as having a “Buddy Bench Team” to encourage people to use the bench.

After the presentation, Hutchison said that by the end of the school year a total of 12 benches would have been presented to schools in Wellington County, with “a handful” already reserved for September.

“It’s nice to bring positivity into the school,” she said of the Buddy Bench program. “Mental health is a hard subject to talk about, but it is one that needs to be talked about.”

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