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Buddy Benches Premier at OPS Elementary Schools provided by WMWO Chamber, Entergy, and OPSO

The Chamber is proud to announce Buddy Benches will be installed in all elementary schools in Ouachita Parish Schools System. The Buddy Bench serves as a powerful tool for students on the playground, providing them with a means to signal their feelings of loneliness or isolation to their peers. The Buddy Bench rules are simple, if you choose to sit on the bench, you must say yes to the first friend who invites you to play or walk and talk. If you see a friend sitting on the bench, you invite them to play, or walk and talk. Studies show that many children experience loneliness at school, resulting in a tendency to withdraw and avoid social interactions. Buddy Benches seek to eliminate that loneliness and encourage student success.
Buddy Benches were made possible by a grant from Entergy, with design and construction by Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office. All 22 elementary school under Ouachita Parish Schools will have a Buddy Bench on their playground. The installation, coordinated by the Sheriff’s office, will take place over the next few upcoming months. Every elementary teacher will be provided with Buddy Bench learning materials for their classroom. 
The coordination and installation of the Buddy Benches was spearheaded by West Monroe Chamber’s Membership Manager, Ashley Dowling. The first Buddy Bench was unveiled today at Claiborne Elementary School in West Monroe. “I am thrilled that this idea is coming to life.” says Ashley Dowling. “I would have loved to have a Buddy Bench when I was in school. Children may have a difficult home life and despite their best efforts, they have trouble fitting in. The Buddy Bench will help bridge that gap.” 
“Entergy is excited for the opportunity to continue powering lives through powered friendships” says Entergy Customer Service Manager, Amanda Edge.
"We want all of our students to look forward to coming to school each day.” says Todd Guice, Ouachita Parish School Board Superintendent. “Each day holds a special opportunity that can shape a student's day, school year or even life. A Buddy Bench is a perfect example of a place where students can express themselves and find a lifelong friend in the process. We emphasize to our faculty and staff the importance of being intentional with every child. This project will help us acknowledge and address students' needs. We can all benefit from a Buddy Bench by becoming a positive impact in a child's life and the lives of those who use a Buddy Bench to reach out and get to know their peers better." 
The Chamber encourages the entire community to spread the word about the Buddy Bench project. We understand the outcome of student success is intertwined with building strong social connections and we want to be sure every student has an opportunity. 

The mission of the West Monroe/West Ouachita Chamber of Commerce is to enhance economic growth in the WM/WO and surrounding areas by focusing on education, promotion, and development of the business community, and those areas of the community affecting business. Find out more at or call 318.325.1961.

Photo from left to right: Colonel Larry Knight, Chief Deputy Marc Mashaw, Sheriff Jay Russell, Entergy Customer Service Manager Amanda Edge, WMWO Chamber of Commerce Membership Manager Ashley Dowling, Ouachita Parish Schools Board Member Shere May, Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Todd Guice

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