Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Making Friends On A Buddy Bench

Christian Bucks (seated, left) with Caden Lombard (seated, right) and his clasmates with their Buddy Bench PHOTO COURTESY HOLY NATIVITY SCHOOL

Christian Bucks (seated, left) with Caden Lombard (seated, right) and his clasmates with their Buddy Bench PHOTO COURTESY HOLY NATIVITY SCHOOL

Some schools around the world have adopted a new type of “buddy system.”

The centerpiece is a simple concept created by a Pennsylvania third-grader that has caught on coast to coast. It’s a bench placed on the playground so children will not feel lonely at recess.

Christian Bucks, at 8 years old, pitched the idea to his principal in 2013 after seeing a special bench at a school in Germany. At the time, Christian’s family was planning to move overseas and were exploring educational options. The move never happened, but Christian liked the thought of a special bench so much, he convinced his principal at Roundtown Elementary to introduce a “Buddy Bench” on their campus.

Christian picked out the bench and did a presentation before it went onto the playground. He knew that there were some kids who felt lonely at recess and he thought this would put an end to that.

He couldn’t have predicted what happened next.

The local newspaper did a report about the Buddy Bench. Then national outlets picked up

Christian’s story. First, Huffington Post shared his vision. That led to a feature on NBC’s Today show.

As Christian’s story spread, so did requests from other students to bring a buddy bench to their school — even from thousands of miles away, here in Hawaii.

Caden Lombard, a fifth-grade student at Holy Nativity School (HNS), saw the story on the Today show about how Christian proposed the Buddy Bench to his principal.

One thing led to another. He was inspired to get one in Hawaii. Caden got the OK from his principal. Then, Caden’s family invited

Christian and his mother Alyson for a week in Honolulu to honor him and officially kick off the program at Holy Nativity Nov. 10.

HNS now has two Buddy Benches in its playgrounds and invited other schools to meet Christian and learn how they can have a Buddy Bench of their own.

What started as a way to help lonely children make friends has grown more than Christian ever could have imagined. There’s now a Buddy Bench in all 50 states, but it’s hard to quantify the impact it’s having.

One mother thanked Christian, saying, “Because of him, my child, who has a rare genetic syndrome and so badly wants to make friends but has a social/speech barrier, has been successfully playing and making friends at recess with the Buddy Bench!”

Another grieving parent donated a Buddy Bench in honor of her son, who was killed in a car accident shortly after his high school graduation.

It’s touching to see how a simple idea to eliminate loneliness and foster friendship on the playground is making a meaningful difference.

Learn more at buddybench.org.