Third-graders with the buddy bench they raised money to have installed are, from left, Izzy Toren, Freddie Dalton, Ailani Sanchez, Anastasia Werdon, Xavia Stephan and Evan Fish

Need a Playmate? Have a Seat and Just Say ‘Yes’

Students Raise Funds for Buddy Bench

by Morgan Jarema  

Evan Fish said he knows what it's like to get bummed out during recess when there are all kinds of kids around but seemingly nobody to play with.

So when the Pine Island Elementary third-grader read about something called a buddy bench earlier this school year, "I thought, maybe we should have one," he said.

Skylar Martin holds a poster she made to raise money for the buddy bench purchaseOther students around the world have had the same thought. Learning of a buddy bench in Germany inspired Christian Bucks of York, Pa. to install one at his school's playground a few years ago. His web site features buddy benches everywhere from New Brunswick, Canada to the Oklahoma School for the Deaf.

Evan took the idea to his teacher, Kristen Keifer, who thought it sounded like a stand-up plan. He enlisted classmate Izzy Toren as the campaign's secretary -- "She's like a vice president," he said; "He's like my boss," she said -- to help come up with ways to raise the $300 or so they needed.

Pine Island teacher Kristen KeiferKeifer's students made posters and bracelets to sell, and they appealed to the entire school to, for a buck apiece, wear a hat one day and bring a stuffed animal from home another day.

Their efforts paid off in about two months, and the bench arrived in January. Right now, it's being tried out in various spots on the playground. It is expected to be permanently installed before the end of the school year.

So, How do You Use it?

How it works, Evan explained, "is if you see someone on it, you ask if they want to play."

What not to do? "Don't just sit on it and if someone asks you to play say 'no.' Always say yes."

Evan Fish shows off a bracelet like those he and his classmates sold to help pay for their buddy benchAnd if you are on the bench and someone asks you to play, but you're shy? "Just go like this," said classmate Aden Cole, vigorously nodding his head.

Xavia Stephan can attest to the bonding power of the buddy bench. She saw a girl sitting on it, asked her to play, and now the two have played together three times during recess.

"We've done the swings, the bars, the spinny things ... almost everything," Xavia explained.

Students at Stoney Creek Elementary currently are raising funds for their own buddy bench.

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Submitted on: March 10th 2017

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