News

Would You Be My Friend? How Buddy Benches Are Helping Lonely Kids Find Playmates at Recess

By Tim Newcomb | January 30, 2017

Photo: twitter.com/PrincipalMoore

This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness to be found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74million.org/series/inspiring.

Life at school can be tough. It can be a lot tougher without friends. But Star Hill Elementary School in Dover, Del., has a solution — a Buddy Bench in the playground.

Mackenzie Reynolds, a second-grader at the school, told the Delaware State News, “If you don’t have a friend to play with, you can go sit on the Buddy Bench and someone will come to ask you if you want to play with them. After I sat on the bench, someone came over and asked me to play. We swung on the swing set and we walked and talked.”



First-grader Audriana Crockett said she keeps a keen eye on the bench, watching for someone sitting all alone. “A few days ago a girl named Carmen sat on it. She was so sad. I went over to her, because I saw her first, and asked her if she wanted to play. She said yes, and we had fun together.” 

That’s just what Parent Teacher Organization President Shannon Hardee had in mind after seeing a video of kids using a Buddy Bench at another school.



Her group asked community members to donate wood, paint and labor, and then it gave the finished bench to the school district.



 

One key, Hardee told the News, was having all the students dip fingers in paint and place them on the bench so they could take ownership. “It’s a great way to get the kids thinking about spreading their generosity,” she said.



 

And it works: No one, said Principal Nicole Kurz-McDowell, remains on the bench for long: “The kids are very cognizant — they’re always watching to see if someone sits on the bench.”


Submit a Letter to the Editor