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Lyseth Students Win Grant to Spruce Up ‘Buddy Bench’

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Lyseth Students Win Grant to Spruce Up ‘Buddy Bench’
Posted on 01/25/2017
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Two Lyseth Elementary School third-graders have won a $486 Painting For A Purpose grant to make the school’s “Buddy Bench” more inviting to use.

“The boys told me that the current plain bench was brown and boring and that they wanted to make it colorful and friendly,” said Lyseth art teacher Ellen Handelman. “I am really proud of these boys for wanting to create a more inviting Buddy Bench.”

Buddy Benches are designed for a child feeling alone or upset during recess. The child sits on the wooden Buddy Bench, signaling a need for peer support. Then trained student “buddies,” typically older students, join the child on the bench to talk and/or engage in productive recess play. The benches help the older students become empowered as school leaders and mentors for younger students.

Handelman said the two third-graders approached her because they “wanted to find a way to get buckets of outdoor paint to make the buddy bench a more interesting place for people to want to sit. They also thought it would be a good idea to have a storage chest of games available so people could play after together after sitting and meeting on the bench.”

The boys applied for a Painting For A Purpose Service-Learning Grant and were notified this month that their application had been approved. Painting For A Purpose is a local nonprofit organization that brings together artists, parents, students and educators to create and sell original art and objects for the home, many refurbished out of old furniture. All proceeds raised by Painting for a Purpose are invested in community initiatives that Portland Public Schools’ students propose and complete.

“I look forward to seeing the designs these two third-grade boys plan,” Handelman said.