Written by Maridel Reyes
Pennsylvania second grader Christian Bucks had a simple idea to foster friendship. He didn’t know it would spread like wildfire across the country.
Christian noticed that some kids didn’t have anyone to play with during recess at Roundtown Elementary School in York, Pennsylvania. And then he got an idea: What if he brought a “buddy bench” to the playground?
If students feel lonely and without anything to do, they can sit on the buddy bench, and another student will come to the bench and ask if they want to play or talk.
The idea was sparked by research on international schools he and his family had done online. (The family is considering a temporary move abroad for his father’s job.) A buddy bench at a school in Germany immediately caught Christian's eye.
"He thought this was a great way to help other kids who might feel lonely or left out from time to time," his mother Alyson Bucks told The York Daily Record.
Christian then brought the suggestion to Roundtown Principal Matthew Miller at the end of the last school year. Miller ordered a bench and consulted Christian about colors and style. Christian was the first person that got to sit on the bench when it arrived.
News about the bench spread fast. Last week, Christian and his buddy bench were featured on the Today show, where Matt Lauer called him his "new favorite kid."
Roundtown Elementary Principal Miller says he's gotten a flood of correspondence from 32 states about the buddy bench—from other principals who are thinking of installing one at their schools, to custodians asking how to head off vandalization of the benches.
"I was really surprised," Christian has said. "I didn't know that people would share" the idea and the story."
TELL US: Do you think your local school should have a buddy bench? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.