St. Michael Boy Scout Jack Kroenen, a junior at St. Michael-Albertville High School, recently completed his Eagle Project, the highest Boy Scout ranking one can receive in scouts, by building five Buddy Benches for local schools.
The Buddy Bench is a simple idea that combats and eliminates loneliness on school playgrounds across the country. The idea came from a Pennsylvania boy who saw the idea in a German school in 2013. Since then Buddy Benches have spread across the country as a friendship station across playgrounds. When a child doesn’t have anyone to play with they can sit at the bench and then other children can ask them to play. The only rule is that if someone comes up to talk, walk or play the child has to say yes.
“The bench encourages communication and confidence,” Koenen said. He goes on to explain that he was new to STMA in 2008 and had he had a Buddy Bench it would have been a lot easier to make friends as the new kid.
“We need to teach kids to be kind, loving and generous,” he explained.
“The Buddy Bench is a voice for children who are too shy or afraid to ask if others will play with them,” Big Woods Principal Lee Brown wrote in her school newsletter.
In addition to Big Woods, Koenen’s Buddy Benches are at St. Michael Elementary, Fieldstone Elementary, Albertville Primary and Step By Step Montessori in Corcoran where his sister attends kindergarten.