Combating bullying: Wisconsin third-graders create “Friend Bench”
STRATFORD, Wis. (CNN) — Elementary school students in Stratford, Wisconsin have found a unique way to combat bullying.
The students have created a special place on the playground where kids can make friends.
Bullying is a heartbreaking issue.
“Some people are different from other people, and some people laugh at that,” Sonia Peterson said.
Now, a heart-warming solution.
“We go over by them and say ‘hey, what’s wrong?’ And then we say ‘do you want to be friends with us?'” Ava Weix said.
That’s what happens on the friend bench.
“Without friends, you don’t have anyone to play with,” Ben Zuelke said.
Third-graders at St. Joseph’s Catholic School created the “Friend Bench” in an effort to combat bullying.
It’s a way to make all students feel included.
“A first-grader — she has four other boys in her class and no girls so they don’t really play with her that much, so I’ve seen her on the Friend Bench a few times and I’ve come over to talk to her,” Zuelke said.
It all started in January.
“They were sad about some kids that didn’t have friends to play with at recess time,” teacher Tammy Belisle said.
So when the class saw the idea of a Friend Bench online — they knew that was the answer.
“People need friends because they’re like heartbroken when someone — if someone doesn’t have a friend or they don’t have someone to play with,” one student said.
So far, it has been a success.
“They say ‘thanks for being my friend. Yeah, I like you,'” one student said.
Every day, the third-graders go out for recess — each with a careful eye on the bench.
“They sit on the bench and then we look after the friend bench and we go make friends with them,” Zuelke said.