Student Hopes to Alleviate Bullying, Loneliness with ‘Buddy Bench’ Project

MURRAY, Utah -- 

A Murray student said his own experiences with bullying and being left out inspired him to launch a special project at his school.
Sixth-grader Jaxton Winrow and his mom found the idea for a "Buddy Bench" on the Internet.
Jaxton went straight to Grant Elementary Principal Matt Nelson to propose bringing a Buddy Bench to his school.
He hoped the simple seat, which would be placed on the playground, would prevent students from getting left out.
I think it'd be perfect because all these kids are being bullied," he said. "I've seen kids be bullied here before."
Kids who are feeling left out can come sit on the blue bench. Other school students sign up to be "Buddy Bench Friends."
"They're asking kids to sign a pledge," Principal Matt Nelson explained. "They'll kind of commit to looking out for kids that are sitting on the bench."
Nelson said it's a proactive approach to bullying.
"It adds an element of positivity and, 'Hey we're going to all come together and stand up against bullying.'," Nelson said.
Nelson helped Jaxton's idea take off. The school formed a Buddy Bench Committee, and bought the paint.
Lowe's hardware store helped get them the bench. Jaxton painted the bench along with this family and fellow classmates.
"It's hugely important to not just say we're anti-bullying, but we're pro-friendship, we're pro-inclusion," Nelson said.
And for Jaxton, it's a symbol of friendship. A way to make sure no one feels alone.
"I want people, everybody in the whole school- even teachers and staff members here- to just look over to the bench," Jaxton said.
The Buddy Bench Committee will carry the bench out to the playground each day for kids to use during recess.

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