Story published with permission from Frisco ISD Communications.
May 29, 2014
You can see the impact on playgrounds across Frisco ISD.
Eight-year-old Abbie Hanson, a second grader at Shawnee Trail Elementary School, first brought the idea to school counselor Cyndi Steward in December.
“If you’re feeling kind of lonely or sad and you don’t have anybody to play with at recess, all you do is walk over to the Buddy Bench,” Hanson explained. “If you sit there for a few minutes, I know somebody will come over and play with you.”
Hanson heard about the concept on the national news, after a student in Pennsylvania made headlines for introducing the Buddy Bench at his school. He saw pictures online about similar benches in Germany.
“I absolutely loved the idea,” said Steward, who worked with Hanson to introduce the Buddy Bench at Shawnee Trail in January. “It was really inspiring that one of our students would think of others and want to help them feel more included and welcome.”
The Buddy Bench was a big hit at Shawnee Trail and word of its success quickly spread across the District. Now more than a dozen FISD schools have one.
“Studies show students do better in school when they feel like they belong,” said Brenda Berry, FISD Director of Guidance and Counseling. “The Buddy Bench is another great tool for campuses to continue to build the positive school environment that we know is critical to the success of all our students.”
At Shawnee Trail, the bench has helped students form new relationships and feel more accepted by their peers and connected to the school itself. New student Leah Biju moved to Frisco from Dallas in March.
“It was hard to make new friends,” she acknowledged. “One day I really, really wanted to play with someone because I didn’t want to waste all my recess, so I sat on the Buddy Bench and Valerie came.”
Biju is talking about fellow second grader Valerie Askey, who spotted her sitting alone on the bench and invited her to play.
“I was really happy when I got a new friend,” Biju said.
“I was really happy because I had a new friend,” Askey added.