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"Buddy benches" comfort students and promote friendship

"Buddy benches" comfort students and...

SPOKANE, Wash. - In the days after the Freeman High School shooting, we learned admitted shooter Caleb Sharpe said he'd been bullied. Now, as a community united in tragedy comes together, many wonder what can be done to help kids who could feel the same way.

Last week, the Freeman Elementary School, Freeman Middle School and Freeman High School received Buddy Benches donated by Kaiser Permanente.

The idea is if a child doesn't have someone to play with and are too shy to go up to a new group, they can sit on the bench.

It isn't new to the area, though. Roosevelt Elementary School on the South Hill has had one next to their playground for four years. Students at Roosevelt are taught from a first day of school that if you see someone sitting there, they could use a friend.

Maddie Averett, a fifth grader at Roosevelt Elementary School said, “It's probably like the worst thing that could ever happen to you- not having someone to play with or not having a friend. “

She is one of the student leaders who are the eyes and ears of the playground, in addition to school staff.

Fifth grader Sadie Henry is another one of those leaders. Kids she has approached on the bench have told her they have no friends.

“I have seen some kids here, from different grades and I'm like, do you want to play?” said Henry.

Averett says its tough to approach her fellow students who sit there alone.

“I mean it made me feel kind of sad because its not a good thing to not have any friends so it kind of means people weren't very nice to them or they were new here,” Averett said.

But it has made a difference.

“I think we have had a reduction in conflict and issues on the playground,” said third grade teacher and student leadership adviser Deanna Bunch.