Heading to a playground can sometimes be a lonely or scary experience for a child.
Drusillas Park in Alfriston, is tackling loneliness head on this week and has just unveiled its brand-new Buddy Bench, to help children make friends in their play areas.
The multi-coloured Buddy Bench is located in the centre of Drusillas Go Wild! play area.
This week is Loneliness Awareness Week and Drusillas is hopeful their new Buddy Bench will support any children who are struggling with feeling lonely.
Cassie Poland, Drusillas’ director and head of marketing, said, “The idea of any child feeling lonely is just awful and as a children’s attraction we felt it was important to do something to prevent children feeling that way at Drusillas.
“Our play areas are always teaming with children having fun, so there is always someone to play with! But it’s hard for a child who is own their own to have the confidence to approach others and ask if they can join in.”
Drusillas’ new Buddy Bench makes it much easier for children to make friends. If any child is on their own, they can simply sit on the bench and other children will know they are in need of a friend. They can then invite them over to play and take part in their games.
Cassie said, “Fortunately my two boys keep each other company most places we go.
“But when my eldest is at school my youngest doesn’t have anyone to play with.
“We’ll go to play areas but he’s often too shy to walk up to someone and ask if he can join in. The same story is true with lots of other children, either they are an only child or are nervous or just don’t have a friend with them at that moment and that can be very lonely.
“Going to a play area should be such an exciting experience and we just hated the idea that some children might approach our play areas feeling sad or lonely.
“We wanted to do something to encourage all children to be kind towards each other. We’ve also put up a little sign to ask children to keep each other company if they see another child sitting alone on the bench.”
The Buddy Bench was unveiled yesterday, and children are already making use of the bench and finding new friends.
Cassie said, “It was really wonderful to see children supporting each other and playing together yesterday. We saw quite a few kids sitting on the bench and being quickly asked to play by others. We’re really chuffed that we’ve seen a difference already.”
One child said, “I didn’t have anyone to play with today so I didn’t really know what to do.
“But my mum sat on the bench with me and now I’ve made a new friend who is really nice and came on the slide with me.”