Paso Robles 'buddy bench' aims to encourage friendship

Paso Robles’ Winifred Pifer Elementary School unveiled its new “buddy bench” on Monday as a new way to encourage friendships on campus.

“Pifer students (have been) taught that if they see someone sitting on the buddy bench, they should go and ask him or her to play, talk and be their friend,” according to a statement from the school.

The bench was installed on the playground earlier this month, school principal Carol Stoner told The Tribune.

“I have gone around to each classroom explaining the purpose of the bench,” she said. “And after the dedication on Monday, the students will officially be using the bench to eliminate loneliness, support friendship and spread the message of inclusion and kindness.”

The bench was donated to the school at 1350 Creston Road by the family of Paso Robles resident Lynda Holt in memory of her late mother, Ferne Leslie, who died in June 2014. Leslie, also a Paso Robles resident, volunteered at the school’s library from 1998 to 2004 when her grandsons attended Pifer Elementary.

Stoner said she’s heard of other buddy benches existing at schools in San Luis Obispo County.