Four Gosport schoolchildren are on a mission to stop loneliness and bullying by forming their own group spreading friendship and happiness.
Eight-year-old Lilly-Rose Mintram came up with the idea of the Friendship Squad after being inspired by learning about people such as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.
The Peel Common Junior School pupil has recruited three of her friends to help – Oscar Pellatt, Phoebe Corney and Lana Murden have joined Lilly in patrolling the playground to make sure no-one feels left out.
Lilly, from Gosport, said: ‘I’m trying to stand up for what I believe, everyone shouldn’t be lonely because it will just make them upset and they will have no friends.
‘Friendship Squad is to make people who are sad on the playground happy and join in with us.’
Proud parents Phil and Michelle Mintram, who fundraise for the school as the Friends of Peel Common, encouraged Lilly to take the idea to headteacher Andy Clarke, who was over the moon.
Mum-of-three Michelle said: ‘We’re really proud of our children anyway, but it just beams through us when we hear she wants to do something so nice and kind.’
The Friendship Squad provide a safe place for lonely children to join in and have fun, and can be spotted across the playground thanks to their hi-vis jackets which say ‘I’ll be there for you’.
Lana, eight, said: ‘We always help each other and we’re always there for each other no matter what, even if we’re being bullied.’
Nine-year-old Phoebe added: ‘I thought it was actually quite nice to be helping other people.
‘Even when we weren’t with our jackets, we still helped other people.’
The group is hoping their idea will continue at the school, and spread to other children across the country.
Mr Clarke said: ‘I thought it was a great idea but I’m just really proud that it’s come from them.
‘They have really understood it, processed it and want to do something about it. It’s about supporting their ideas and empowering children.
‘They’re brilliant ambassadors for this because they have got this confidence and belief in their friendship.’
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