As the children of Shelton Elementary filed into their auditorium for a special morning assembly on Friday April 28 2017, there were many sideways glances at the big bulky object covered in a blue sheet and book-ended by two huge helium balloon bouquets. Cross legged and obedient, they waited for an explanation.

“Today is a special day for two reasons. Who can tell me what the first reason might be?” asks Principal Karen Brown. A little girl answers out of range of the microphone. Karen chuckles and says, “Okay, there’s three reasons today is so special. The first is, the choir is going to sing. What else?” The other two reasons this day was so special were: that it was ‘A Day Without Hate’ (a national day of kindness created by a student led organization promoting non-violence, unity and respect within schools); and R2K’s Kindness Day!

“We’ve been given a special gift by an organization called Resort 2 Kindness”, explains Mrs Brown. “Do you want to see what’s under the sheet?” she asks everyone, and invites Elva to join her in unveiling the beautiful custom designed cedar wood Buddy Bench. “I’m super excited to give you guys the very first buddy bench that has a Silver Fox and a Coyote!” announces Elva after the oohs, ahhs and applause have settled.

The concept behind a “Buddy Bench” is to encourage inclusiveness. When a student feels lonely or wants someone to talk to, they sit on the bench and other students and staff members recognize their need, go sit with the child, and provide support, comfort and friendship.

Both Karen and Elva talk about the two buddies sitting on the bench together: The Silver Fox representing R2K’s inspiration and Elva’s late father, Patrick Pellouchoud; and Shelton’s school mascot, the Coyote, representing the students. Elva held back tears as she talked about The Silver Fox, and how he raised 15 kids and lived to be 92 years old. “He loved kids, and he loved being kind, and he loved being a buddy” she told the students. “With this bench, he’s being a buddy to each and every one of you every day of the year.”

With voices in unison, Shelton’s Health Heroes then shared their Buddy Bench Pledge:

“We pledge to watch our bench and be aware,

So kids know that we care.

Be kind to students big or small,

Give cheerful comfort to one and all.

Encourage friends to come and play,

So being a buddy makes their day.”

The highly anticipated choir then sang their boppy Buddy Bench Song – a cheerful re-wording of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’. We hear a music video is in the works and will be released sometime in the near future! We can’t wait to watch it and add it to our YouTube channel!

As the students filed out of the auditorium and back to class at the conclusion of the reveal, some took the opportunity to take a closer look at their new bench. They read aloud the quote painted on the front, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted”, and gently stroked the shiny polished wood with little admiring hands.

Thank you Shelton Elementary for welcoming our R2K family into your special school community!