Perhaps what makes this particular story so uplifting and full of youth, innocence and promise. It’s the antithesis of how our Capitol Hill clowns do things. This isn’t a liberal or a conservative politician in this tale, but rather by a regular kid — a second grader in Pennsylvania, Christian Bucks.
He doesn’t care about obstructionist politics or denial of civil responsibilities, or even raising the minimum wage. He thinks about school, recess and friends. His peers. Too bad his Governor doesn’t feel the same way as he denies Medicaid coverage in his state. But Christian’s just a kid and shouldn’t have to worry about partisan politics. And taking sides out of the equation, he shows the importance of just caring to do something good for others.
Though a popular elementary school student himself, Christian’s recognized the proliferation of some of those not so fortunate in his school. He thinks about many of his schoolmates who suffered through loneliness, being excluded and just plain not having a friend. During a trip to Germany where he saw something called a buddy bench. The concept stuck with him and he brought the idea back home. He may have shared the wonders of a European vacation with his friends, but with his school principal, Matthew Miller, he shared a more important vision.
And good ideas are hard to keep down. Thus, this week his school, Roundtown Elementary School in York Pennsylvania, unveiled the Christian Bucks Buddy Bench. And like a whisper in the wind, this story caught on, not just in the local area, but in other cities across the country as well. He’s gone viral. And his idea of the buddy bench is growing exponentially.
Shunned kids, unpopular students, the shy, the awkward or just different are being given a safe haven on the buddy bench. It’s an opportunity to make new friends, a place where they can get sit until they find someone or something to lift their spirits or give them added confidence. Sometimes all a kid needs is someone to play with. And now the students at Roundtown Elementary know where they can go to find that person. Shyness often can be overcome with just a kind word or a simple invitation, “Hey, you wanna play or wanna do somethin’?” from a peer. A new friend can emerge from the crowded void of inclusion.
Watch this uplifting NBC video and make your day a meaningful one. If you have school age kids, think about raising this idea at their playground. And if you don’t have kids, or your children are older, consider donating a bench like this to a school. In these days of bullying and youth suicide, this may even be a life saver. It’s just a thought, but a good one that should be passed on.