Christian Bucks was in second grade when his family was contemplating a move to Germany.  His father, Justin, works for Magnesita Refractories in York, Pennsylvania, and the company was considering transferring him to work overseas temporarily.  His mother, Alyson, began researching schools in Dusseldorf, and while Christian was checking out the website of an international school, something caught his eye.

The school had something called a Buddy Bench on its playground.

The idea: If a kid feels lonely, or has no one to play with, or is being bullied, he or she takes a seat on the bench, a signal to other kids to come over and talk or offer to play.

Christian thought it was a good idea. He had often seen kids on the playground at his school who had no one to play with. This seemed like the kind of thing that would help foster friendships.

At the beginning of the school year, he broached the idea with his teacher and principal. They thought it was a good idea and erected a Buddy Bench on the playground at Central York School District’s Roundtown Elementary School.

It was a hit. “I noticed a big difference,” Christian said. “I saw a lot of new friendships being made.”  It wasn’t so much about combating bullying, he said. It was about making new friends. But the effect was that the bench helped prevent bullying.

He had no idea that his simple act would spread. The bench attracted national media coverage — including a piece on “NBC Nightly News” — and before Christian knew it, other schools were installing Buddy Benches.

There are more than 2,000 Buddy Benches at schools in all 50 states and, at last count, 13 countries, including Italy, Russia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Norway, Thailand, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

“I just like how the idea has spread,” said Christian, now in fifth grade. “It’s a little thing, but just little things can be big.

To learn more about Christian and THE BUDDY BENCH – CLICK HERE