An elementary school in Missouri recently introduced a “buddy bench” after a 9-year-old student wanted to help out other children looking for friends.
Gabrielle Vaughn, a third-grader at Harrisonville Elementary School, said she came up with the idea for the bench after hearing another girl in need, television station KSHB in Kansas City reported.
“She was wanting to pray about her not having any friends to play with during recess,” Vaughn explained. “I thought this school needed a buddy bench.”
The “buddy bench,” which sits near the playground at Harrisonville Elementary, was installed this spring.
Vaughn said she has already seen it make a big difference.
“If people don’t have a friend, they can sit on the bench and then somebody could come over and ask them if they wanted to play,” she told KSHB. “I saw a girl sit down today and three seconds later, three girls came up.”
The bench also features a special saying on it: “A friend is only a seat away.”
Vaughn said seeing students help out others sitting on the bench served as a fun experience.
“It’s not that they feel bad for the person, it’s just that they want to make a new friend,” she explained. “They just want to help that person, get to know them better and have a friend to play with at recess.”
With many schools across the country continuing to address bullying, Gabrielle’s teacher Audra Osborn said the bench helped show that children can help one another.
“Just to be able to know you’re part of a community that kids will come up and tell you to play with them is very important,” she explained. “It sends the message that we want to be a school that will include everybody and who will ask people to play who need friends.”
As Vaughn gets set to go to the upper elementary school next year, she said she may add another bench there to help out other students.
“I think that everybody should have a friend to play with,” the girl said. “Everybody should have a friend whether or not they think they’re good.”