GSA donates Buddy Benches to local schools
by Jodi McDonald

June 16, 2016


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(R-L) Charlie Gallop, Seth Gallop, Andersson Primeau (Northport students), Makenna Huber & Taylor Carr (standing) (members of the GSA at SDSS)

The Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) at Saugeen District Secondary School (SDSS) is a student organization that embraces diversity and peer-to-peer supports.

 It's a social justice group made of youth who identify as LGBTQ along with their straight allies. LGBTQ youth are often marginalized in society and within schools, which can have a lasting negative impact on an individual's sense of self. Promoting awareness of the issues that effect sexual and gender minorities and creating safe and accepting environments, continues to be the goal of the GSA.

In its third year at SDSS, the GSA wanted to complete a project that could positively impact elementary students. Buddy Benches (also known as Friendship Benches) have been used in other schools across the country as a tool to help young people navigate the challenges that can be associated with the playground.

 Developing friendships and managing conflict can be difficult for many children. Students on the playground learn that the bench is the go-to spot for lonely kids seeking a friend. The Buddy Bench essentially shares the same message of diversity and inclusion that the GSA wants to promote. Accepting all individuals and learning empathy are qualities we want to instill in our youth to ensure they grow into compassionate adults.

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The benches, which were donated to G.C. Huston, Northport, and EPESCS, elementary schools are a product of a number of partnerships, including the Lion's Club, the Town of Saugeen Shores, and SDSS's off-site construction program. The GSA greatly appreciates the contributions made by these groups

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Thursday, June 16, 2016