Bargo girl creates system to combat school loneliness

FORWARD THINKING: Bargo's Indiana Jackson, 12, has designed a "Find a Friend" button system to help kids who are feeling lonely at school. Picture: Simon Bennett
FORWARD THINKING: Bargo's Indiana Jackson, 12, has designed a "Find a Friend" button system to help kids who are feeling lonely at school. Picture: Simon Bennett

No child will ever feel lonely at school again - if Indiana Jackson has anything to say about it.

The Bargo girl has created a "Find a Friend" button system which she hopes will one day be implemented in playgrounds across the state.

Indiana's system would include several support buttons being placed throughout the school.

If the light flashes green, it means another child has pressed a button somewhere else in the playground. The two students can meet up at a "friend station" and go off together.

If the light doesn't flash green, a teacher would be notified through an app on their phone and attempt to find them a friend.

Indiana, 12, said the buttons would be wirelessly connected and powered by solar panels.

The budding inventor said the system could have an impact on students.

"I came up with the idea because I had trouble finding friends in the playground," she said.

"It would be amazing if someone picked it up one day."

Indiana Jackson holds up the "Find a Friend" button. Picture: Simon Bennett

Indiana Jackson holds up the "Find a Friend" button. Picture: Simon Bennett

Indiana's mum Michelle Jackson said her daughter created the Find a Friend system late last year for an Origin Energy inventors competition.

Indiana, who was in year 6 at Picton Public School at the time, submitted her entry and finished as a top four finalist.

"Indiana had her idea work-shopped with engineers. A video showing her system was made at school after the trip," Ms Jackson said.

Indiana's video was recently shared on the Department of Education's Facebook page.

It had close to 145,000 views and was shared more than 1100 times.

"There were many supportive comments from parents. A lot of people said they would love to see it implemented at school," Ms Jackson said.

I came up with the idea because I had trouble finding friends in the playground.

Bargo's Indiana Jackson

Picton Public School principal Nathan Neilson said he was impressed with Indiana's concept.

"Unfortunately we don't have the funds to commit to it - but we may consider a modified version," he said.

A NSW Department of Education spokeswoman said no-one had approached the department about implementing Indiana's idea.

The spokeswoman said programs like those were determined on a school-by-school basis, dependent on their own needs.

"The Department of Education has a strong focus on wellbeing and nurturing social skills among students which enable them to develop appropriate friendships at a variety of levels, from close personal friendships to building wider circles of friends," she said.

Indiana now attends Chevalier College in the Southern Highlands.

To view Indiana's video, visit the NSW Department of Education Facebook page.