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The buddy bench, a primary school playground implementation designed to eliminate playground loneliness, provides a potential strategy to ensure more children reap the positive benefits of elementary school recess. Through children’s artwork, in-depth interviews, and playground observation this ethnographic study explores the socially constructed meanings of the buddy bench and their implications. Findings show children’s shared meanings of solidarity, inherent worth, empowerment, and a shift in focus from playground bullies to buddies leads to a perceived climate change on the playground. These shared meanings reshape children’s narratives about themselves, loneliness, and the playground experience in a positive manner. This study’s methodology advances the communication field by demonstrating how scholars can use children’s artwork to identify and define children’s socially constructed meanings.
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