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Christian Bucks picked out the bench’s style and bright colors before it arrived at Roundtown Elementary.
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Paul Kuehnel / Daily Record / Sunday
Buddy Bench
A Pennsylvania boy found a simple but powerful way to help kids at his school make friends

By Jennifer Marino Walters

Christian Bucks may be young, but he sure knows how to be a good friend. When the York, Pennsylvania, second-grader noticed that some of his classmates didn’t have anyone to play with during recess, he came up with a way to help them. He suggested having something called a “buddy bench” installed on his school’s playground.

A buddy bench is a special bench where students can sit if they are feeling bored or lonely. It’s usually brightly colored and labeled “BUDDY BENCH” in big letters. Other students can then go to the bench and ask them if they would like to play or talk.

“We show we care about others when we ask others to play,” Christian told reporters.

A BRIGHT IDEA

Christian first learned about buddy benches when his family was considering moving to Germany. He saw a buddy bench in a brochure for a German school and thought it would be a great way to fight loneliness on the playground at his own school, Roundtown Elementary School.

Christian told Roundtown’s principal, Matthew Miller, about his idea at the end of last school year. Miller immediately decided to get a buddy bench. He had Christian pick out its style and bright colors.

“I was the first person [who] got to sit on the bench when it arrived at Roundtown,” says Christian.

BATTLING BULLYING

Experts say that including kids who are alone at recess or lunch could also help combat bullying, a common problem in schools. Bullying involves hurting or threatening another person through teasing, physical violence, exclusion (leaving them out of activities), and more.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, as many as 30 percent of U.S. students have been bullied or have been a bully. Bullying can have lasting negative effects on the mental health and well-being of both victims and their bullies.

Christian hopes his buddy bench can help prevent that. He says, “I hope that new friendships will be made because of the buddy bench.”