Acts of Kindness: Little Elementary’s ‘Buddy Bench’ Brings New Friends Together

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When you walk onto the J. B. Little Elementary School playground in south Arlington, you are greeted with the familiar sights and sounds of children swinging, running, and playing soccer together. A child sits alone on a green bench in the middle of the playground, but before long he’s welcomed by his classmates to join in for some fun on the monkey bars.

The green bench, known as the Buddy Bench, was the idea of Paul Fuller, a student at Little Elementary. With the help of his classmates and his first grade teacher, Heather Bush, Paul’s dream that no student feel left out at recess is now a reality.

“The Buddy Bench is a bench for people who don’t have anyone to play with,” said Paul, who is now in second grade. “They sit on the bench and the other kids come ask them to play so that everyone can have a friend.”

Paul said he was inspired by an online article describing another school’s successful Buddy Bench. His teacher, classmates, and their parents stepped forward to help once Paul pitched his idea to bring the project to Little Elementary.

“We can either listen to our students’ ideas and dismiss them, or we can run with them and show them that they can achieve their dreams,” Bush said.

The total cost of the bench project was around $1,400, but this did not stop the first grade class from achieving its fundraising goal.

Annabel F., another student in Bush’s class, proposed that they raise money by selling “kindness cards,” or greeting cards that were hand-drawn by each student. After drawing the cards and ordering thousands of copies, the class made a video commercial and posted it to YouTube and Facebook.

“We sold so many kindness cards,” said Annabel. “We shipped them to people all over the country.”

Less than six months later, the Buddy Bench was installed at Little Elementary. The teachers and students say they believe the project has been quite the success.

Baylor Lindner, a classmate of Paul and Annabel, explained that she hoped the Buddy Bench encourages people to be kind to each other and look out for kids who may be lonely.

“To me, kindness means sharing and being nice to everyone, even if they aren’t your best friend,” Baylor said.

The City of Arlington, which launched a Kindness Initiative last year, applauds Paul and Little Elementary for working to make The American Dream City a kinder place to live, work, play and learn.

People are encouraged to report acts of kindness that they perform, witness or were the recipient of through the City’s Ask Arlington mobile app, on the Acts of Kindness website, or by posting on social media using #ArlingtonKindness and @CityofArlington.

Click here to read more about Acts of Kindness occurring throughout The American Dream City.