Our interactive workshops teach children to recognise and respond to their own feelings.
By identifying feelings and becoming aware of them, children can make smarter choices.
After completing our programme, children learn how positive qualities such as kindness and compassion feel in their bodies.
We explore what exclusion feels like in our bodies – and we discuss how inclusion makes us feel.
We teach kids to notice how others are feeling on the inside by the clues they give on the outside.
For children aged three to nine years, we use a physical Buddy Bench™ as a visual tool alongside highly interactive workshops to teach emotional skills they can carry into adulthood.
For the older students we use the Buddy Bench as a symbolic visual tool to teach them how to identify and express their feelings. The Buddy Bench reminds us to be our kindest selves. The programme releases the stigma of asking for help and celebrates children who act with compassion, kindness and empathy.
Buddy Bench Ireland’s Little Buddies Early Years program prepares preschool children to transition into primary school.
Transitions are a critical time for children’s growth and development. They provide an opportunity to not just survive change, but to thrive and grow from change. Facing such a challenge, with the right support behind them, children can develop resilience and resources of strength and courage that will stay with them their whole lives.
With the theme of thinking for example, we discuss how they might begin to try solving their own problems first, e.g. how to sort out an argument with their brother or sister, before asking for help from Mam or Dad. .
The Little Buddies children’s kindness program is where children become enthralled in our interactive story brought to life by our furry woodland creatures. Teaching them how to be kind to themselves and others, using a visual tool a Buddy Bench.
In the workshops, through the use of role play, puppets, story and song, we teach the ABCs of how to be Little Buddies.
Exclusion, isolation or fears of being left out can create anxiety for any child, so we have built our Kindness Buddies Program around teaching kindness, self-awareness, friendship, empathy and self-expression, using the Buddy Bench as a visual tool.
The children explore the clues other children give away on the outside about how they feel on the inside. We appoint all the children in the class the job of “noticing” and responding with kindness.
This Kindness Buddies program highlights the importance of friendship in our lives, friendships give meaning to our lives and make us feel like we belong. Feeling like we belong improves our children’s mental health. Friends are central to our happiness and well being and we all need kindness to grow
For the more senior children in Primary school we believe the idea of sitting on a bench when you are feeling lonely or need a friend makes them too vulnerable. So our program is less about using the bench as a way of reaching out and more like a symbol of friendship and kindness.
We place the social responsibility upon older students to monitor the yard or the bench for anyone who may be feeling excluded and empower them to respond. They are Buddy Ambassadors. They have the power inside themselves to grow friendships with kindness.
Through the use of storytelling, roleplaying, creative activities and a physical BuddyBench, this fully interactive programme allows each child to play a part
We partner with Men’s Sheds to bring your community a little bit closer together and make a physical Buddy Bench for your school. The bench is more than a prop and plays a central and on-going role as the programme is adopted into daily life by the students.
We have hundreds of child and teacher friendly guided learning pathways and lesson plans in both printed out and downloadable PDF format.
We are proud to have worked closely with the team at NUI Maynooth on a study part funded by the Irish Research Council to evaluate the Buddy Bench Ireland programme.
This research was carried out by Penny Quinn (a Research Assistant in the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research (www.cmhcr.eu), Maynooth University Department of Psychology) and supervised by Professor Sinéad McGilloway (Director of Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University Department of Psychology).
While final publishing of the report was delayed due to covid-19, preliminary findings for the research include:
- Overall, almost 96% (n=112) of the sample responded positively to having a Buddy Bench in their school, with half (n=60) selecting the ‘liking it a lot’ category and 45% selecting the ‘liking it a little’ category. Over 90% of the children felt that there should be a Buddy Bench in every school.
- All of the children drew and named their own emoji to depict how they felt about having a Buddy Bench in their school; over two-thirds used the word ‘happy’ to describe their emoji.
- When asked how they would respond to seeing a child whom they did not know sitting on the Buddy Bench, almost half of the children said that they would ‘talk to the child, but not sit on the Buddy Bench’ whilst 43% said that they would ‘sit on the Buddy Bench and talk to the child’.
Ardee Co. Louth
"It is a lovely idea that encourages inclusion and empathy, ensuring that more children can express and communicate their emotions. The psychotherapist was so lovely and open and communicated the ideas very well. I would highly recommend the Buddy Bench programme because of its potential to help develop, not just an inclusive school environment but its potential to grow a more inclusive society.
St. Mary's NS
“A very informative, age- appropriate presentation. In a classroom of 29 children, with 20 of those being boys, Aurellia had the children engaged and eating out of the palm of her hand. Not an easy task!!"
"I thought the programme was super, very child friendly and easy to follow. It has sparked a lot of conversation among the children. They love their Buddy Bench!"
"It is a physical tool and a daily reminder to all members of a school how important it is to take time to notice others feelings and to give a helping hand to those how need it. Fantastic presentation delivering a clear concise message. Thank you so much.
St. Brendans NS
Hugginstown Co. Kilkenny
"I think the whole area of mental health is so important and the buddy bench programme is a valuable aid to schools."
St Canice's N.S
"It is important that children can use buddy bench to look for help/friendship. It is a stepping stone to learn coping mechanisms in life. it is also good for others to be aware that children need help/friendship and hold out a helping hand".