6th class students from St. Mary’s Boys’ N.S. with the new Buddy Bench pictured with School Principal Sean Woulfe, tutor John Morris and Family and Community Development Worker with WLR Mary O’Connor.
Paul Ward Buddy Bench

St. Mary’s Boys National School, Abbeyfeale, recently availed of the Buddy Bench In-School Aware Programme. This is a school-based child led positive mental health, programme that promotes emotional resilience and mental wellbeing, through supporting the core competencies of empathy, creativity, self-awareness and communication.
Children are encouraged to find happy outcomes to situations that arise in or around the Buddy Bench and the School Yard. This initiative was funded under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) delivered by West Limerick Resources (WLR).
Mary O’Connor, Family and Community Development Worker with WLR outlined that the programme worked very well and this was down to support, planning and good local relationships to maximise resources. This programme was enhanced through collaboration between West Limerick Resources, Tusla and Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB) Campus in Abbeyfeale. Under the guidance of John Morris (LCETB tutors) the benches were created through a ‘Dads and Lads’ carpentry programme to produce the physical symbols in the form of the Buddy Bench to be placed in the school yard. Six parents and six children from the 6th class in St. Mary’s Boys’ National School participated in the programme.
Parents who were involved in the ‘Dads n Lads Carpentry programme’ really enjoyed the opportunity of working with their child and felt it gave the child a sense of pride and responsibility. Feedback from parents included “a sense of doing a practical skill’ and notably ‘it was such a different experience for our child not to be pressing buttons on a computer but using his head and hands”. Overall the programme was very well received and the consensus was summed up as “This was a well-run, well thought out programme, and the Tutor was excellent”. Some of the boys involved in the programme got a real opportunity to sample carpentry and would be keen to purse it as a subject in Secondary School. ‘Overall the project has been very positive and we have been delighted to be able to support its delivery in the Community; said Mary O’Connor.
The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) 2018-2022 is funded by the Irish Government through the Department of Rural and Community Development and co-funded by the European Social Fund under the Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) 2014-2020.