Not wanting anyone at her New Washington, Indiana elementary school to feel left out, 3rd grader Peyton Jones came up with the idea to build “Buddy Benches” at her school’s playground. She even raised the money to build the benches herself.
Peyton’s mom told her about the concept of a “Buddy Bench,” and to her, it seemed like the perfect solution when she noticed that not everyone had a friend to play with at recess.
“When you don’t have anybody to sit with on the playground, you sit on the Buddy Bench and other kids come over and ask if you want to play with them,” explains Peyton.
To build the buddy benches at her school, Peyton needed to raise $500 per bench, a task she put upon herself. Peyton began to make and sell sugar scrubs, using the money she raised to buy a buddy bench.
Peyton initially intended to make 50 sugar scrubs, but demand was so high she ended up making 200. That gave her enough money to buy one buddy bench. It also inspired her school’s principal to match the money she raised and buy a second buddy bench.
It’s only been a few months since the two buddy benches were installed, but already there’s been a noticeable difference.
“Once you get to 2nd, 3rd grade, that’s really when you start seeing a lot of that in the unkindness and the way they’re treating — it might not be bullying, but it’s being unkind to each other, so it’s a great time to start,” explains New Washington teacher Heather Barry.
Peyton says she feels great pride in what she did every time she walks by the buddy benches, whether someone is sitting on them or not.
“If somebody’s sitting on it, it makes me kind of sad, because they don’t have anybody to play with,” says Peyton. “But when nobody’s on it, then it makes me kind of happy, because everyone has someone to sit with.”
With the buddy benches in place, Peyton is moving onto her next project, which is building a little free library for her school. You can learn more about Peyton’s efforts on her Facebook page.