First-grader starts a ‘buddy bench’ epidemic
A Pennsylvania student came up with a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground
Sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can make the biggest difference. Everyone knows it can be tough for some kids to make friends. Some kids are just innately shy; they may feel awkward and inadequate to the task of putting themselves forward to other kids. All too often, such children can be singled out for bullying, making their difficult situations just that much more painful.
However, at Roundtown Elementary School, in York, PA, a young student named Christian Bucks came up with an idea that was brilliant in its simplicity. Take a bench, place it on the playground and designate it the “buddy bench,” a place where children could sit when they were looking for someone to play with.
In the spring of 2013, when Christian was in the first grade, there was a possibility that his family was going to move to Germany. While looking at a website for a school overseas, he saw a picture of a special bench on the playground. He asked about it and liked what he heard. He thought it would be a really great addition to the playground at his current school, Roundtown Elementary.
He knew there were some kids who felt lonely at recess, and he thought the buddy bench could put an end to that. He told his teacher and his principal about the bench and they thought it was a great idea. Since it was the end of the school year, the principal said he would look into it over the summer and they would get it in place in the fall.
In the end, Christian didn't move to Germany, so he was able to stay at Roundtown. Sure enough, his principal researched it and let Christian help pick out the bench in the fall! After the buddy bench arrived, Christian gave a presentation to the school board to explain its purpose. Before it was placed on the playground, Christian spoke in front of his whole school at a community morning meeting to explain the buddy bench concept and show a video about it that he’d made with the principal. The kids loved it, and were very excited for the bench to be placed on the playground! Christian has heard from students and adults across the country who are creating buddy benches in their schools and communities. He is so excited by this and eager to see the buddy bench movement spread.
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