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Monday, March 3, 2014 - 7:55pm
El Paso (KDBC) — Students in a Socorro elementary school are standing up to bullying, by sitting down.
A clever group of second-graders are taking it upon themselves to make sure everyone has a friend and a soft place to land, when they are feeling blue.
It’s called a buddy bench.
The one place students can open up if they have been bullied or simply feeling under the weather.
"A buddy bench is for a kid who feels lonely and no one wants to play with him and someone can come and invite him to play with him," said Itzel Chavez, second grade student at Robert Rojas Elementary.
Second grade students signed a petition to have a buddy bench at their school in hopes of helping other students make friends during their lunch time.
"It all came from second grade. They all wrote me their letters, they asked me for permission and I said of course," said Jessica Macias, principal at Robert Rojas Elementary.
Texas Kids Dental, a partner in education for the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, pitched in $200, and three "buddy benches", plaque and all, are now on the playground for students to use.
"It’s not an idea an adult came up with, it’s an idea that the students came up with its something they are going to cherish and they are going to take care of these benches," said Macias.
The way the buddy bench works is if you are seeing a student having a bad day, or is having a hard time making friends, all you have to do is sit by them and invite them to play.
But there is one rule students must follow.
"All the students know that there is a specific purpose, it’s not sit down take a rest, it is for those students are having trouble for that particular day," said Macias.
Monday was the first day the benches were put to the test, and one student was ready to help.
"I could ask him if he wants to play with us or something. If they feel lonely, they are going to be making new friends,” said second grade student Ruben Chavez.
The buddy bench program is new to Socorro, but not new to the country.
Schools in Colorado and Pennsylvania have already incorporated this system, all in hopes of reducing bullying.