South Side Elementary student Ben Casson proved you’re never too young to think of others. Personal experience and the complaints of some friends left him looking for a solution to students feeling left out during recess.
A quick Internet search introduced the fourth-grader to a growing trend nationwide of special benches known as Buddy Benches. The concept behind the bench is that if students see a child sitting on the bench alone, it is a signal for other kids to ask him or her to play.
“I know people and there was a time or two when I didn’t have anyone to play with. That just isn’t a good feeling to have,” Casson said. “Sometimes people get lonely when they don’t have anything to do. I hope the bench makes kids have the best recess that they can have. I think it might eliminate some bullies who pick on other kids for being different.”
Casson and his mother prepared a proposal for South Side principal Dr. Anne Littleford who enjoyed the presentation so much that she had Ben do it a second time so that she could record it.
“He had pages of notes and he divided the presentation up into different categories,” Littleford said. “It was just so well put together.”
Just a couple weeks after the pitch, a generous donation of time and materials allowed for South Side to have their first Buddy Bench installed on the school’s large playground. Littleford and Casson said they hope to have another put on the smaller playground as well.
“It’s just a wonderful idea and I think it is going to be terrific,” Littleford said. “I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled. I think it will help with behavior and it will help with feelings, we don’t want anyone to feel left out.”
Casson and Littleford recently introduced the bench to the student body. With the help of guidance counselors, students will be able to sign up to help make sure that anyone on the bench will have someone to spend time with.
“The responsibility of the kids is to accept everybody, not just the one or two kids that they are best friends with,” Casson said.
Casson mentioned that he was surprised how fast the first bench was completed and installed and he noted he was appreciative of his principal for listening to him.
“My principal is so nice and she is just awesome,” Casson said. “She wants all of us to have the best time that we can have at school.”