Students add a 'Buddy Bench' to foster friendships on the playground

Bench helps kids who are left out

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- The playground and recess can be a rough place for kids who have no one to play with or keep being left out of games. To combat this problem, students and staff are adding a "Buddy Bench" to schools across the nation to foster friendships.

One group of young students recently brought a "Buddy Bench" to an elementary school in Pinellas County.

“I’ve been left out many times,” said Julie Dees.

Dees is a student at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Pinellas County. At school, she is part of Girls on the Run. It is a non-profit organization that teaches girls to be confident and healthy through running. At the end of every season, each team comes up with a project to benefit the community.

“Julie brought forth the idea of a ‘Buddy Bench,’” said Nikki Stowell, the Girls on the Run Coach. “When she mentioned it, I thought silently … oh what a wonderful idea…”

The idea is simple: if a student is feeling left out or sad and has no one to play with, they sit on the colorful “Buddy Bench." This is a cue that the child needs someone to play with and hopefully other students will go over and invite the child to play.

The Girls on the Run team decorated a bench and put it on the playground at St. John Vianney.

“There are a lot of left-out people and people don’t know that,” said Dees.

The girls say the Buddy Bench really works. 

"It has helped me, I've sat on it before," said Dees. 

"Yeah, there were a couple of other girls in third grade who used it and some other people came to play with them," said Caroline, another Girls on the Run member.

An idea and an object teaches children lessons and helps form friendships that may have otherwise not existed.

"It's okay to be lonely sometimes," said Dees.

Dees explained that after girls came over to her and other students at the bench, they all played together and were happy.

Read more about the student who brought the Buddy Bench from Germany to the United States by clicking here.

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