Hudson – On Sept. 18, the C.A. Farley Elementary School held a ceremony to pay tribute to former school paraprofessional Lisette Barberio by dedicating a new Friendship Bench in her memory.
The idea of installing a Friendship Bench at Farley Elementary was proposed by Farley Home and School Association President Jenni Concannon. The bench was created by the founder of Tiny Girl Big Dream, Inc., a 13-year-old girl from Florida named Acacia Woodley.
The Friendship Bench, located next to the school building facing the playground and baseball field, is a colorful and welcoming bench that is large enough to seat two to three children and adults. A child who is feeling sad, lonely, and in need of friendship can go sit on the bench to let others know that they need a friend.
“I contacted TinyGirlBigDream.org last spring because I fell in love with Acacia and her mission,” Concannon recalled. “Anyone who has ever been bullied as a child knows how detrimental it is to the entire school experience. It is so important to focus on spreading kindness rather than on the people who are bullying. When we celebrate and reward kindness, it spreads. In the end, if the child who is not acting nicely stands alone, they, too, will want to join in on spreading acts of kindness.”
The Farley Elementary Home and School Association in collaboration with Tiny Girl Big Dream, and the Lisette Barberio Memorial Fund raised the funds needed to bring this special bench to the students at the school. Tiny Girl Big Dream also donated bracelets to all of the children at the school that were printed with the words “I Am Amazing.”
According to those who knew her, Barberio promoted kindness throughout the school and beyond. September marked the one-year anniversary of her passing and her family’s wish was to help bring this bench to the school in her memory.
“We look forward to housing this bench at our school to provide support for our students, honor the memory of Lisette Barberio and promote the mission of the Tiny Girl Big Dream foundation,” said Principal Melissa Provost.