Rotary Club of Bribie Island present friendship benches

By Neil Wilson - Sub Editor for the Bribie Islander

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As a part of their ongoing commitment to the local community, Rotary Club of Bribie Island members attended the Bribie Island State School and the Banksia Beach State School recently to present both facilities with what is known as Friendship Benches. Originating in the United Kingdom, the benches are designed as an anti-bullying initiative and have now been adopted by schools throughout the world.

Featured Image(above) Bribie Island State School Principal Peter Keen received a $1,000 donation from Rotary Club of Bribie Island President Jeff Eustace

They are installed as a place where children can sit when they feel threatened or even just don’t have anyone for company. Teachers or other students will then talk to the child on the bench as a way to take away the feeling of isolation. The purpose of the Friendship Benches is discussed in classes so that all students understand what to do if they notice someone sitting on the bench. At the Banksia Beach State School, Rotary Club of Bribie Island President Jeff Eustace presented one of the benches to Deputy Principal Aaron Jones in the presence of students, local Rotarians and representatives of the Bribie Island and District Woodcrafters.

On officially handing over the bench, Jeff told those present that after becoming aware of the idea and already knowing about what the Woodies are capable of, he approached Arthur Horsfall who agreed to take on the project. ‘I would like to thank the Woodies for the wonderful job that they have done and I am also pleased that the whole project has been done locally,’ said Jeff.

From Banksia Beach, the Rotarians and Woodies members proceeded to the Bribie Island State School where two more benches were handed over to Principal Peter Keen and staff member Kate Legge who, along with fellow teacher Kim Hatfield and Rotary Youth Director June Sturges, co-ordinates the EarlyAct Club. This is an initiative which is sponsored by Rotary and has been in place at the school since 2013.

The club currently has twenty eight-members and its mission and operation are closely linked to those of Rotary. At a very young age, all students can be encouraged to be caring and helpful as their minds are open to recognising the dignity and worth of each individual. EarlyAct is designed to provide young students with the opportunity for gaining an increased awareness and knowledge of their community and the world.

One of the projects that the EarlyAct Club has undertaken is a vegetable garden which they cultivate and then harvest, with the produce then being sold to both parents and teachers. To help with the successful fertilisation of the flourishing gardens, the school has installed a high-tech mechanical mulcher that goes by the name of OSCA, (On Site Composting Apparatus,) and simplifies the process of converting waste into matter that is suitable for composting.

During the current term, they will be collecting blankets, old towels and doonas for the Animal Thrift shop in Bongaree. On making the presentation to Mr Keen, Jeff also handed over a cheque for $1,000 and pointed out that this was a contribution to assist those students whose families were unable to provide them with appropriate footwear, books and other essential items.

On a personal note, during my time attending both presentations I was particularly impressed by the well-mannered attitudes and the courteous behaviour of the students who attended the ceremonies at both schools.

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