(NewsNation Now) — It can be difficult for young children to make friends at school, which may lead to loneliness and isolation, but one Indiana third-grader is making a difference for those feeling alone.
We’ve all seen that kid in school. More than likely, we were that kid at some point: sitting alone, maybe getting picked on by bigger, older kids or one of the cliques in school who make themselves feel better by making others feel bad.
Zachary Green read a book that sparked the idea to create a “buddy bench” for his elementary school. While most kids are heading off to play with friends, play sports or do other extracurricular activities, Zachary got to work figuring out what he needed to do to get a buddy bench for his school.
When kids sit on a buddy bench, it signals to their classmates and teacher they’re feeling alone or have no one to play with.
Rather than being a sign of weakness or hopelessness, sitting on the buddy bench signals a willingness to make friends that might resonate with some kids who could use a friend but just didn’t realize it.
Green’s idea became a reality with the help of Kellum Imprints and Printing in Ramsey, Indiana, which offered to build the bench.
The company told Green it needed 250 pounds of small plastic lids and tops to be melted down and made into the bench.
Recycled plastic is a popular material for outdoor use, being molded into everything from landscape borders and benches to cushioning mats to put beneath playground equipment. It’s inexpensive and wears like iron, lasting for years even in direct sunlight.
Green got right to work and collected enough plastic to create two benches, one for his school and one for another elementary school.
The 9-year-old says he wants everyone to know they belong. Green says he’s grateful for all the support he’s received.
“I’ve been bullied. Say like, if a kid being bullied has no friends, or just needs someone to talk to they can go sit on,” Green explained. “Our teachers, students, and stuff that that person needs a friend.”
He says his goal is to see a buddy bench at every school and every playground.