Buddy Benches aim to help lonely kids

MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Kids at Israel Putnam Elementary in Meriden are learning an important lesson Monday. It’s about inclusion and compassion on the playground. Teaching children to look out for lonely classmates, by paying close attention to a particular bench during recess.

“Everybody is going to know that if somebody is on that bench, they’re looking for somebody for some reason,” said Ty Bongiovanni, with the Meriden Rotary Club.

It’s called the Buddy Bench. Each one custom designed for the school it will call home. Kids feeling lonely or left out during play time, simply go sit. Fellow classmates are taught to take notice and ask for their company on the playground.

CJ Baez, a third grade student said it’s needed “because they don’t want people lonely and want them to have good time,” while on the playground.

Sealed with a thumbprint, each child at the school takes an oath pledging their support of the Buddy Bench and all it stands for.

The Rotary Club of Meriden covers the construction and installation.

“I have witnessed firsthand some of my students coming over and saying ‘so & so come play with us, I see you’re feeling lonely today,'” said Kristen Ruede, a third grade teacher at Israel Putnam.

It’s going to take a few weeks before the Buddy Bench is installed at Israel Putnam. The Rotary plans on installing Buddy Benches at all eight Meriden elementary schools before the school year is over.

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