This is Sam Synnott’s bright idea for Kilkenny.

We use bench as a visual tool to instil skills to promote positive mental health for children.


We have developed the Buddy Bench Aware programme which is a school-based positive mental health which promotes emotional resilience.

The programme releases the stigma of asking for help, celebrates children who act with compassion, kindness, and empathy, and encourages the development of conflict-management skills, thus relieving anxiety, stress and feelings of isolation. Thus the formation of a better society from a young age encouraging empathy.

The Buddy Bench placed in the school yard, is used for children when they are new to the school, want to make new friends, they want to play something different from what their friends are playing, they’re having a problem or not feeling great.


Sitting on the bench lets everyone know you are feeling lonely, ‘different’, are being with your emotions and thoughts, and so others are free to check in with you.

We have partnered with the Men’s Shed on a national level, they make the benches for the schools which has brought them very much out into the community creating friendships among them, parents and children.

This marriage of young and older cultivates an atmosphere of friendship and inclusion within the community.

Our mission is to seed a cultural change in how children, and those who interact with them every day, think about, share and support each other in terms of their inner lives.

This will create a positive community for all to enjoy. Giving a language (through the Workshop) and forum (the Bench) to cultivate a shared fluency in personal expression, we are bringing into the mainstream, and affirming, how we are observing children already relate to themselves and each other.


Through bringing the Buddy Bench Aware Program to schools but also a result of the consciousness raising effect of promoting the programme nationwide, we hope to the power of children to set their own tone for their own interactions, while also supporting them with wisdom and experience through our team of expert facilitators, and providing opportunity for creative self-expression through our interactive workbook.

The men of the Men’s Sheds have literally come out from the woodwork, we envisage young and older working together to promote positivity, inclusion, respect and friendship while enjoying positive mental health. A happy community.