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Fostering Inclusivity with Buddy Benches

Isabella Milojevic standing by two colorful benchedEveryone needs a buddy, and Isabella Milojevic, a Somers High School senior, is helping Primrose students find theirs. She created buddy benches for Primrose as a way to give back to a school she still loves many years after attending herself.

“I wanted to create a safe space for these students in the playground,” said Isabella. “These buddy benches will give students a place to develop friendships with other students.”

In 2020, Isabella was in eighth grade and working toward her Girls Scouts Silver Award with the buddy benches project. The Silver Award is an individual project that finds a need locally and works to develop a solution that betters the community. After reading the book “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Deywalt, she was inspired.

“In this book, ideas of inclusivity and diversity are some of the main themes,” Isabella said. “After reading this book, I came up with the idea of making buddy benches that looked like crayons.”

Isabella Milojevic with many students on two benchesOnce her idea was approved, she held a bake sale to raise money for bench supplies like wood, nails, and paint. She enlisted the help of her uncle, who is a carpenter, and the use of his tools. From idea conception, through planning and creation, the whole process took approximately three months to complete.

“These benches have been on the playground since 2020, but due to COVID, I was never able to come in and talk to the kindergarteners about them until recently,” Isabella said. “When I got invited back to Primrose, I was extremely excited.”

This year, during Primrose’s No Place for Hate Week, Isabella was finally able to see her bench in action and speak to the kindergarten students about the importance of including new friends during recess.

“During my time visiting Primrose, I was able to visit all kindergarten classes and attend their recesses,” Isabella said. “I felt extremely fulfilled that something that I did for the school had made an impact on the friendships of these students.”

Clearly, the buddy benches have been a welcome addition to the playground since they were installed.

“I hope my project inspires them to help out the community like I did.”