Elementary School’s “Buddy Bench” Teaches Students to Include Everyone

Image Source: Tuckahoe Union Free School District
Image Source: Tuckahoe Union Free School District

The recess bell rings. Kids throw away the last remains of their lunch and bolt through the double doors leading out to the playground. Cliques form immediately: there’s a basketball game started, Four Square in the corner, a group on the swings, and various kids walking around here in there.

But then, there are some that don’t know where to go or who to play with — and that can be more than a little disconcerting for a kid just trying to figure out the big, scary world of making new friends.

But now, there’s a bench for that.

This past Wednesday, students and administrators of William E. Cottle School in Tuckahoe, NY celebrated the unveiling of a special addition to their playground. A new bench, aptly named “Buddy Bench,” was created as an initiative to keep kids from feeling left out.

“The ‘Buddy Bench’ is where people sit and then other people ask them to play with them,” student Adelina Coleman told ABC 7.

And it’s as simple as that.

When a child feels lonely, he or she will sit on the bench, creating a less intimidating way to let others know they’re looking for someone to play with.

“For some kids it is a really stressful time,” said the Assistant Principal, Peter Killgalen, of recess time. ”Who am I going to play with? They’re playing kick ball, I’m not good at kick ball.”

Image Source: Tuckahoe Union Free School District
Image Source: Tuckahoe Union Free School District

But the beauty of this new seating device, donated by the PTA, is not only for the comfort of the child who sits on it, but the way the elementary school students perceive it. Sitting alone is no longer seen as something negative, but instead, as an opportunity to help someone out.

“If they are just talking about the purpose of a ‘Buddy Bench’ and that the purpose is to reach out to one another, and to make each other feel welcome, to me we succeeded,” said George Albano, the Principal at William E. Cottle.

Everybody needs a buddy, sometimes, and as student Jack Freidman, puts it: “It helps people make more friends.”

Which can only be a good thing when navigating the grassy fields of recess.

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