The Waterford Wildcats left their paw prints on Buddy Benches on the school’s playground.
Students from Waterford Public School spent their Thursday morning painting their handprints onto two benches as part of a Fusion4Inclusion initiative.
The goal of Buddy Benches is to “eliminate loneliness, foster friendships and to educate and spread the messages of inclusion and kindness,” according to a news release from Fusion4Inclusion.
Waterford District Secondary School students who are part of Fusion4Inclusion helped bring the idea to Waterford Public’s principal, Deb Opersko.
Last June, the high school students did a presentation for the elementary students to discuss the purpose of a Buddy Bench and how it will help the school’s community.
“The decorations are being done by the students because then it really becomes their benches,” said Sharon Norrington, program co-ordinator with Fusion4Inclusion.
The decorating process also gave the older students a chance to show their leadership skills. The Grade 8 students helped co-ordinate the younger students through the line of picking their colour, putting the paint on their hands and finding a spot to put their fingerprint.
“I think the kids are really going to embrace this idea,” said Opersko. “There are always kids that are looking for somebody to be with at recess and may not be outgoing enough to approach somebody. Sitting on one of these benches will give a signal.”
Since 2016, Community Living Access, Community Living Haldimand, Community Living Six Nations, Haldimand Norfolk REACH, and the Norfolk Association for Community Living have come together to support the Fusion4Inclusion initiative.
The two Buddy Benches were made possible with the support of the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise.
“I can’t say enough good about the potential of what’s ahead using these benches at our school,” said Opersko.