Bridging the Opportunity Divide

A Second Grader’s Genius Idea Helps Lonely Kids Make Friends

December 3, 2014
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A Second Grader’s Genius Idea Helps Lonely Kids Make Friends
Second grader Christian Buck poses with his Buddy Bench in York, Penn. Christian's Buddy Bench via Facebook
And now, it's taken off to more than 200 schools around the world.

For some kids, the playground can be a big, lonely place.

But last year, Christian Buck, a second grader in York, Penn., came up with a simple, but amazing idea to help kids who don’t know where to go during recess or have anyone to play with.

According to Good News Network, the 8-year-old was shown a photo of a special bench at a German school where lonely kids can go to so that other children can befriend them. The young man liked what he saw, and he decided to tell his teacher and his principal at Roundtown Elementary about it, and they thought it was a great addition for the playground. Soon after, the Buddy Bench was born.

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Six months later, Christian’s school project has turned into somewhat of a movement (check out this map of Buddy Benches across the nation). There are also Buddy Benches in schools around Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Italy and Canada, the York Daily Record reports. The newest one just popped up in Lake Superior Primary and Intermediate School in Ashland, Wis.

“It helps the kids who see others on the Buddy Bench, to enable them to approach and ask them to play,” Intermediate School Counselor Kelly Sundeen tells Ashland’s Daily Press. “It also tells the kids on the bench that it is OK to say ‘I need someone to play with.’”

The bench is also a powerful anti-bullying tool that allows teachers and administrators to teach students to be kind to others and not ostracize schoolmates that sit on the bench. “It really builds their self-esteem to ask others to play with them,” Sundeen adds.

Christian has since given speeches in California and Connecticut about his wonderful idea.

“The idea of the Buddy Bench is to allow others to meet and play with new friends or old friends,” Christian explains in this video. “We show we care about others when we ask others to play.”

Isn’t it nice to be nice?

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