The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

'Buddy Bench' donated to Whitehall School

 

January 2, 2020

Trish, Evelinn, and Tony Scarborough sit on the "Buddy Bench" they recently donated to the Whitehall School District. Ledger photo by Melissa Jenkins

In May of 2018, 10-year-old cousins Avery Kohl and Lydia Chaffin both tragically passed away in a UTV accident in Idaho. Throughout their lives, both made a tremendous impact on those they crossed paths with which included Tony, Trish, and Evelinn Scarborough of Whitehall.

Avery of Brigham City, Utah was known for her kindness and dreamed of growing up to be a humanitarian. Shortly after the accident, her friends and family helped to fulfill her dreams by creating Avery's Dream Foundation.

In a short amount of time, her foundation has already touched the lives of many throughout Utah and a recent donation to the Whitehall School District has ensured her impact will be felt locally for years to come.

The Scarborough family recently made a donation of a "Buddy Bench" as a way to help curb playground isolation for kindergarten to sixth-grade students.

To Tony and Trish, being able to make the donation was extremely important. Avery and Lydia are the granddaughters of Tony's sister Nancy.

"It means everything to us," Trish said.

Keelan and Kristi Wilson of Whitehall were also very instrumental in the new bench which will be placed on the side of the playground. Trish said Keelan who owns Antler Construction will be placing a concrete slab later this week for the bench and Kristi were there for their family after the accident.

"They have been a huge support system for us," she said.

Trish said the idea behind the bench is to promote kindness.

"Our niece was just so kind to people. She wanted everyone to be kind and loving and to give a helping hand," she said. "We want to keep her dream going."

Students who are alone are encouraged to sit on the bench and if someone invites them to play are asked to tell them "yes" or "no, thank you". Students who see someone sitting on the bench are asked to join them and invite them to play, talk, or walk with them. If they are told "no", the students are asked to say "ok, maybe next time" and walk away.

According to Avery's parents Jason and Jennifer, the benches have been found to be a great tool to reduce the number of isolated children and those feeling lonely or who are friendless during lunch or recess. They also help to identify a student who is introverted and is quiet and spending time in isolation as a way to say to the playground world "I need a friend" and for classmates to include them.

They said the seed of friendship and kindness is planted and quickly playground isolation decreases.

"Principals of schools who have received and parents of children who have used Buddy Benches donated by Avery's Dream Foundation consistently report back to us the immediate positive effect the benches have on their students and children," Jason and Jennifer said.

During her fourth-grade year, Avery had a writing assignment about what she wanted to be when she grew up and she took this task very seriously.

Avery told others "I don't want to be able to walk around and see someone on the street starving. I want everyone to have a warm house and food to eat. I want to help them get to a warm place."

With the goal of encouraging kindness, inclusion, and service to people in need socially, emotionally and physically, the foundation has in a short amount of time helping children and families in crisis through donation drives on behalf of organizations like the New Hope Crisis Center, Project Linus, Community Food Pantry and Utah Refugee Coalition. They also recently create and sponsored the Kindness Club for middle school aged students in Brigham City.

Her parents said the focus of the Kindness Club is to encourage young people to be kind by being inclusive of lonely classmates and by performing other acts of kindness.

Melissa Jenkins

Whitehall students sit on the "Buddy Bench".

Along with the donation, Trish wanted to shed light on the life of Lydia, the daughter of Daniel and Jill Chaffin.

A memorial page to Lydia shared her impact on family.

"Lydia loved life and took care of her mind and body. She was careful not only to eat good food and discipline her body as she practiced all the physical skills she was interested in learning to do, but she paid attention to the spiritual training she received at church and in the family home evenings and scripture study sessions she enjoyed with her family. She learned quickly and was eager to help anyone around her benefit from what she knew how to do. Lydia's favorite part of life, in spite of all the interests and experiences she relished, was her family. She recently told her sister: 'I love my family so much. I don't wish for anything else'."

 

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