Bench Buddies

A group of students gather on a rainbow painted bench.

A beautiful rainbow-colored Buddy Bench was delivered to Willow River Elementary School’s playground last week to replace the old bench on the school grounds. The idea of Buddy Benches began in the spring of 2013 when a young boy named Christian noticed a bench at a school he was going to be attending after his family moved and liked what he saw. He knew that there were some kids who felt lonely at recess and he thought this would put an end to that!  He asked his principal if his school could get a bench and the idea of Buddy Benches was born and they can be found all over the country.  

The bench is a tool for students to use when they are unable to find a friend to play with at recess.  Students are taught to first “have a plan” and if the plan doesn’t work out, they try asking at least one person to play.  If that doesn’t work, then they can go sit on the bench, making sure to look around. Friends who are playing can notice if there is someone on the bench and can go over and ask that individual to play.  If they are asked to play and are sitting on the bench, they have to say yes!!

Willow River school counselor, Sarah Flier, stated “that we all need a Buddy Bench from time to time.  Noticing someone sitting there and asking them to play shows empathy and demonstrates the importance of noticing when someone is lonely – and that you have the power to be kind and be a friend to someone in need.  Who knows? You might become life-long friends!”

Kindergarten students enjoying the new Buddy Bench. From left to right, front: Alexis Hays, Mallory Johnson, Ava Wagner. Back: Mason Ehlenz, Grayden Young, Asher Soldan, and Zennah Gabranski.