A dedication ceremony for a new addition to a quiet corner of the schoolyard at St. Bernard’s Catholic Elementary school in Whitby may help anxious students at recess. The initiative, sponsored by Oshawa insurance agent Michael McIvor, from McIvor Insurance, involves the placement of a designated bench for students who are looking to find a buddy to play with at recess, “The amazing thing about this program is that is also provides training resources for teachers and students to help kids who sit on the bench,” said McIvor. The “Buddy Bench” Program is a wraparound approach to help eliminate bullying in the schoolyard. Mc Ivor is passionate about the new addition, “It’s sturdy, it’s strong and it’s supportive,” said McIvor. “I really want to see a Buddy Bench in every school across the country.” MP Colin Carrie and MPP Lorne Coe along with DCDSB Superintendent Gerry O’Reilly and representatives from McIvor Insurance and The Co-operators group attended the dedication ceremony. Students performed songs and poems in the school library before heading out to the playground for a photo session by the shiny blue metal bench. “This is an issue that goes beyond the dedication today,” said MPP Coe, who has granddaughters in elementary school and a daughter who is a special education teacher. McIvor and his wife, Meghan, are parents of four young children who tell them about what’s happening on the playground. “One of the things that always bothered me was hearing about the kids who didn’t have anyone to play with at recess,” said McIvor. “My daughter and I decided to do something to help her classmates that were feeling left out.” McIvor hopes the buddy bench will offer children who feel isolated and alone at recess get the chance to make new friends. “Developing connections between students and their peer groups will help reduce bullying and make every child enjoy going to school every day,” said McIvor.