New bench aims to combat loneliness

New bench aims to combat loneliness

Australian Christian College Darling Downs students Izel, Neha, Sunjoli, Diya, Katherine and Aluo with Karen Parrott. Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen.

A brightly coloured wooden bench at a local primary school provides not only a nice place to sit but also a great opportunity to interact with fellow peers. 

The “catch-a-friend bench” at Australian Christian College Darling Downs was the brainchild of a group of seven of the college’s senior girl students. 

Principal Jacqui Burrage said the bench is designed to promote friendships within the playground environment. 

“Our senior students have been working with Karen Parrott from Connected Education as part of our social emotional learning program,” she said. 

“The girls identified that they had all experienced the feeling of loneliness at some point of their schooling.

“They wanted to provide a solution to younger students so they don’t have to experience the problem of not having anyone to play with at lunch times.” 

The students involved in the project will present the bench to the school community later this term at a special assembly. 

A group of senior boys at the school have also been promoting friendship skills with their younger peers from kindergarten to year three.

The boys have organised a super hero to help the younger students with their mission to address loneliness and inequality.

As part of the program, the students have conducted lessons about empathy to their younger peers and will teach them skills on how to build friendships based on respect.