BOISE, Idaho — From the COVID-19 pandemic to social media to simply navigating the ups and downs of childhood, kids growing up in Idaho today have a lot on their plate.
Sometimes, a listening ear can do wonders to help a child struggling with stress or anxiety.
To help, the Boise Sunshine Rotary Club paid for and installed multiple "Buddy Benches" at area elementary schools. At Jefferson Elementary, students counted down and cheered the moment the new bench was unveiled.
The benches are meant to serve as a safe space for kids who are having a tough time and need someone to talk to. All a student has to do is take a seat on the bench out on the playground, and teachers or other students can join them to talk about what is bothering them.
Jefferson Elementary Principal Ted Totorica said the bench is a good way for kids to signal when they need a friend.
"It makes a big difference for kids to know they have a safe space to be, and a safe space to ask for help without evening specifically asking for help," he said.
Rotary Club member Steve Townsley agreed, saying the benefit of sparking those conversations lasts long beyond the end of the school day.
"We recognize here's an opportunity to help kids in fifth and sixth grade develop that confidence and those life skills to be successful going forward to high school and post public school."
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