SAFFORD – A bright red bench with “Kindness Begins with Me” was dedicated at the Safford Boys & Girls Club Thursday afternoon. Funds to create the bench were raised by the Gila Valley Leadership Class 13 and the bench was donated to the boys & girls club. Patty Wren made a brief presentation and explained the purpose of the Save-A-Skylar campaign.
The room was dotted with people wearing red shirts that either said, “Kindness begins with me,” or “Just stop it.” Wren began her presentation by explaining that the campaign has changed its focus.
“We’ve decided to take the word bullying out of our presentation,” she said. “Sometimes when people say, ‘I got bullied,’” she said. “People ignore them. “Instead of using the word bullying, we want to explain the action that’s happening to us. So instead of saying ‘I got bullied,’ you need to say what happened to you.”
Wren told the group that focusing on what actually happened makes it easier for adults to react to the situation appropriately.
“We’ve shifted our whole focus of Save-A-Skyler to be more of a kindness campaign,” Wren said. “The bench is called the kindness bench now, and we’re giving it to you because we really think it’s important that you have a daily reminder to be kind to others.”
Wren explained that there are three primary reasons to sit on the bench:
If you need a friend
Wren told the kids that if they need a friend and sit on the bench, somebody might come sit by them and be their friend.
“If somebody wants to be your friend,” she said, “then you be friends with them. Don’t say, ‘I don’t want to be friends with you!’”
If you are a friend
“There might be somebody afraid to sit on the bench. And if they see you sitting there, they’ll think, ‘somebody needs a friend, or they want to be a friend. And they’ll go sit with them.”
If you do something kind for someone
“If you get here after school and you did something so awesome for somebody today. Sit on the bench and tell everyone. There’s nothing wrong with sharing some good news is there?”
Wren went on to explain the troubles her son had while in school that served as the catalyst for the Save-A-Skylar campaign.
“Skylar had a rough time at school,” she said. “Kids would pick on him a lot. They would kick him, trip him, punch him, call him names; it was an everyday occurrence. We started Save A Skylar because we thought it was important to change the direction for all the kids that might be feeling hurt, sad and alone, and feeling like nobody cares.”
She encouraged the kids to care for one another.
“Today is our third annual red out day,” Wren said as she closed her presentation. “Today is Skylar’s birthday. For his birthday, it’s awesome that the Gila Valley leadership gave you this bench on Skylar’s birthday.”
To close the dedication ceremony, the group sang happy birthday to Skylar
The bench will be placed outside in the playground.