Sam Synnott from Ardee was a guest on Saturday night’s edition of The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTE One where she took the chance to explain the premise behind her Buddy Bench initiative.
Sam, alongside her co-founder Judith Ashton, appeared on the show as part of a segment promoting Social Entrepreneurs Ireland – the company who have backed initiatives such as Mens Sheds – and their new awards programme in which social enterprises can apply to win funding for their project.
The duo were among three social enterprises that featured on the show and Sam told host D’Arcy about the idea behind Buddy Bench.
“About four years ago, my marriage broke down and my daughter was seven at the time – I couldn’t communicate with her,” she said. “It was probably the most painful thing.
“I found Barnardos Rainbow programme. She went through that and came out shining so therefore we were thinking why does a child have to go through a loss to get coping skills,” Sam continued.
“We put a team together and we developed these three age appropriate programmes.”
Buddy Bench Ireland have devised programmes for schools which promote emotional resilience and introduces children and young people to a shared vocabulary for expressing emotions, through visual tools, learning and role play. As part of the programme, they place a colourful Buddy Bench in the schoolyard as a visual tool. Children are encouraged to sit together and ask one another how they are doing, and speak openly about their feelings in a positive and normalised way.
Buddy Bench Ireland’s four age appropriate programmes are school-based, child-led and promotes good mental health, well-being, emotional resilience and friendship.
According to their website, Buddy Bench Ireland has delivered the programme to 100+ schools and reached 22,000+ children to date, and are extending the programmes daily both north and south of Ireland. Their aim is to deliver the Buddy Bench Aware programme to 2020 schools by the year 2020.
After the programme, Ashton took time to chat to fellow guest comedian PJ Gallagher to ask him how he would have used a Buddy Bench when he was at school.
You can watch the segment again on the RTE Player here or via the RTE Player app.