BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- No student at Bronxville Elementary School ever has to spend recess alone thanks to the school's new Buddy Bench.
Decorated with colorful children’s handprints, the Buddy Bench has a simple yet powerful purpose: If a student needs someone to play play with during recess, he or she can sit on the bench and will be joined by another student.
The Buddy Bench, which is part of a nationwide effort to eliminate loneliness among students, is the product of a group of second-graders’ efforts to improve recess at their school.
After conducting research as part of a first-grade project-based learning experience and seeing a similar bench at another school district in the spring, the students proposed the idea to their teachers, Stacy Bilgoray and Valerie Palacio, according to a release from Bronxville Union Free School District. They recently saw their project come to fruition.
“Having the students solve a real-world problem was an amazing experience for them, and actually creating the Buddy Bench showed them how they can make a positive change in the world,” Palacio said.
Before the official unveiling of the Buddy Bench, which provides an opportunity for students to foster friendships and be kind to others, the second-graders decorated the bench by leaving their handprints on it.
“Everyone should be able to sit on it,” said second-grader Grace, who was an avid advocate for the bench. “It’s easier to find friends that way, and we did this project to make recess better. I liked putting my handprint on the bench because now I can show everybody that my handprint is there and I think that’s really cool. People worked really hard on it.”
The students said the bench would show others that they care about them. As a result of the project, the students were empowered to lead, innovate, think critically and engage the world around them, which are skills closely associated with the dispositions of the Bronxville Promise, the release said.