Buddy Bench at Waverly school teaches empathy, fosters friendships

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Hamlow Elementary School in Waverly is using the power of play to teach kids life lessons on the playground.

A family donated what's called a Buddy Bench to the school, and teachers said its already making a difference during recess.

"The purpose of the Buddy Bench is to help students who maybe don't have somebody to play with at recess," Ashley Hergott, school counselor said.
If a student doesn't have anyone to play with at recess they can sit on the bench and another student will invite them to play.

"Before you maybe didn't notice those friends who didn't have anyone to play with, they might be wandering around not sure what to do or how to play with others, how to interject themselves," Liz Echternkamp, a resource teacher said.

The bench, which is new to the playground this year, was introduced to the students with a book at the beginning of school.
Students are already catching on.

"Never seen student sitting there longer than a minute before somebody is asking them and then they're up and running around and its great," Hergott said.
Hergott and Echternkamp said this simple gesture of inviting a classmate to play teaches important lessons, and can have a big impact on a student's day.

"To see that empathy and that compassion that they want to include everyone and the smile on the friend who is sitting on the bench to say yeah I'll come play, everybody wants to be invited," Echternkamp said."It can be a life long impact."