TN #fourth #grader aims to #combat #bullying with “Buddy Bench”

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- A Tri-Cities fourth grader is taking it upon himself to combat bullying at his school.

South Side Elementary school student Ben Casson said he knows the pain of being bullied and he knows the feeling of being left out.

“I hate that kids get bullied and left out because they have no friends to play with and then they don’t have anything to do on the playground. What’s the point of having recess if the kids are not going to do anything?” Casson said.

That’s where the “Buddy Bench” comes in.

“It’s so easy to just go to a bench and say ‘do you want to play with me’ and it’s a lot easier for everybody to get along,” Casson said.

To make this happen Casson put in hours preparing a presentation for his principal, laying out every detail of his plan for the Buddy Bench.

“He had all the materials, he had how it would be used, what the children’s responsibilities would be,” South Side principal Dr. Anne Littleford said.

The idea to create a Buddy Bench for the playground immediately caught on.

“When he was finished we realized this is a fabulous concept, why don’t we do that, we have issues like this all the time where children are bullied or left out and the playground is where you really notice it,” Littleford said.

A local builder got wind of the idea and volunteered to build it.

Casson explained the concept of the Buddy Bench in front of his school. Then he put up posters where kids could sign up and commit to keep an eye out and be a friend to anyone they see on the bench.

“I just love that people care about making a difference on the playground,” Casson said.

Now his playground has a new addition thanks to an idea he researched, planned out, and followed through with.

“I’m amazed. He’s going to do great things in his life and he’s helping others also think of others,” Littleford said.

Now next year, even when Casson moves on to fifth grade, he’ll still be making friendships happen at South Side Elementary School.