▶️ Bend schools using T-shirts to build friendships, find commonality


Kindergartners have to “stick” together.

“You take off your own patch and pass it to your friend, and they take off their patch.”

Through the power of Swap T’s.

Monday morning, kindergartners at Highland Elementary found a new way to make friends.

“As soon as they see a Swap T’s is on another kid, that’s a commonality.” said Heidi Breuner Wilson, Chief Swapping Officer for the Reno-based business. “And as soon as you have a commonality, it’s nature to be kinder to that person.”

Swap T’s are interactive t-shirts for kids, each with three removable patches meant for kids to trade, or not. The point is to get kids talking, to break down barriers and most importantly have fun.

“They’re having a great time making new friends, helping overcome shyness, disabilities, or any kind of barrier that’s keeping them from wanting to engage with another friend,” Breuner Wilson said. 

She said Swap T’s help kids personally connect with one another in a simple way.

And teachers love giving their students a fun way to share and build friendships.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to have a reason to go and talk to somebody else, and go out of their comfort zone.” said Deanna Chambers, a teacher at Highland.  “It’s a really friendly way for them to say hello.”

Two schools in Bend – Highland and Silver Rail Elementary – received their shirts on Monday. Highland’s involvement is thanks to a sponsorship by the Bend Joy Project, which helped pay for the entire class to be outfitted. Other local sponsors include Les Shwab Tires and Lonza.

Starting a new school year can be intimidating, making new friends doesn’t have to be.

“Having been a teacher, when I see a kid walk away with an arm around a new friend…victory.”




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