ELYRIA, Ohio — Braking supplier Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has donated $4,000 to four elementary schools here for benches designed to foster friendship among students and accompanying student training.  

On Tuesday, Bendix joined 400 students at one of those schools, Franklin Elementary, in an anti-bullying assembly and ribbon cutting for the school’s new "Buddy Bench."

Installed on school playgrounds, Buddy Benches are intended to foster friendships among children, according to the supplier. Each one gives students a way to identify children who need a peer to play with at recess, while encouraging those already engaged in play to invite others to join.

The company is supporting the efforts of Connecting for Kids, which organized the Franklin Elementary event and is also implementing Beyond the Bench Training, a program the nonprofit group developed to accompany Buddy Benches.

Bendix is offering support through its Local Care program. During the assembly, members of the Bendix Local Care Committee distributed “Be a Buddy” bracelets to all students, reminding them of the important role they each play in making others feel welcome and accepted during recess.

“Supporting our community — including its youngest members — is among our most deeply-held values at Bendix,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix’s director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “We are thrilled for this opportunity to join efforts with Connecting for Kids. Their training program and the Buddy Benches are a wonderful way to encourage positive, welcoming interactions among schoolchildren, and we’re proud to contribute to this good work.”

The Beyond the Bench Training program by Connecting for Kids uses role-playing scenarios that teach children ways to use the Buddy Bench to make connections with peers. Students also learn techniques to improve social and conflict-resolution skills.

In addition to Franklin Elementary, the three other Elyria schools receiving Beyond the Bench Training and installation of the wooden Buddy Benches are McKinley Elementary, Oakwood Elementary and Windsor Elementary.

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