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Buddy Benches add extra nice to Niceville schools

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Provided by Niceville Young Professionals (NYP), a committee of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, the Buddy Bench is an attractive bench placed on an elementary playground that serves as a place to sit when students feel lonely or need a friend.

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When young students in Niceville return to school on Thursday they will find something friendly and new on campus: a Buddy Bench.

Provided by Niceville Young Professionals (NYP), a committee of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, the Buddy Bench is an attractive bench placed on an elementary playground that serves as a place to sit when students feel lonely or need a friend.

“The Buddy Bench helps children help themselves in fulfilling one of life’s strongest desires: the desire to meaningfully connect with others around them,” said Matt Ausley, Niceville Young Professional Chair.

“It is the place where friends are made,” he said.

 

The benches engage students, who are encouraged to reach out and befriend classmates sitting on the bench.

When the NYP heard of the concept through a Facebook post, they knew this was exactly the kind of project they wanted to support for their community. After all, it is Niceville and what could be nicer than a friendship bench?

After coordinating with the Niceville, Valparaiso and Bluewater Bay area elementary schools and the Okaloosa County School District, Project Buddy Bench was launched.

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The benches were purchased with the help of bench sponsors Carr, Riggs and Ingram, LLC, CCB Community Bank, First Florida Bank, Key Lime Construction, and Okaloosa County Teachers Federal Credit Union. Accent Signs created appealing and kid friendly signage.

 

Information on the purpose of Buddy Benches and the importance of student involvement is highlighted in an informational video produced for the elementary schools by the Niceville High School Digital Media Department. The video is shown at the start of the school year and is used for new student orientations.

Ribbon Cutting ceremonies were held with each of the five recipient schools: Edge Elementary School, Eglin Elementary School, Lewis School, Plew Elementary School, and Rocky Bayou Christian School. Bluewater Bay Elementary School already has a buddy bench in use.

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The mission of the NYP is to be a viable membership organization aimed at engaging an emerging group of leaders committed to personal growth and career advancement while serving the communities in Okaloosa County. For more information on NYP, visit its Facebook Page.
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