Over the past decade, schools throughout the country have cracked down on bullying. They’ve implemented “No Bully Zones” in schoolyards and created prevention programs to stop kids from abusing others through intimidation, violence, and name-calling. Although stopping negative behavior is necessary, what about creating situations in the schoolyard where children are encouraged to help one another? A new idea imported by an elementary school student in New York is succeeding because it creates a more positive environment on the playground.
A few years ago, Christian Bucks’ family was planning to move to Germany, so they began researching schools for him and his sister. “We were looking at pictures of a school my sister and I would be going to one day,” Bucks says. “And I saw a buddy bench on the playground and I asked my family, like, ‘What is this?’ and then once I learned what it was about, I thought we should have it at our school.”
A buddy bench is a place on the playground where students can sit when they’re too shy to join in on the fun or feeling lonely. It also encourages students to be kind and invite the child on the bench to come play or have a conversation about their feelings.
After Christian presented the idea to his teacher at John F. Kennedy Magnet School in Port Chester, New York, the school’s administration thought it was a good idea, too. “So we decided to bring buddy benches to JFK because, ultimately, it fits in with our vision,” said principal Judy Diaz. “We just knew that it was something that we needed to promote kindness and foster friendships on our playground.”
“When Christian came to us with the idea of the buddy bench I thought it was great that he saw something at a school in another country and thought it would be worth sharing because he thought it would help others,” said Alyson Bucks, Christian’s mother.
“My hope is every school will get a buddy bench and that kids won’t be lonely at recess,” Christian said.
(H/T Little Things)