'Buddy Bench' honors lost classmate, helps kids find playmates

Recess is a time for playing games and making friends--a high point in the day for most kids. But for some of them, the playground can be pretty lonely.9News Journalist Byron Reed shows us how one local Girl Scout Troop wanted to honor one of their class

LONGMONT - At Flagstaff Academy in Longmont, having a friend on the playground can have benefits.

For student Odin Mitchem, having a friend was meaningful.

“Friendship was really important to him,” Flagstaff Assistant Principal Terri Long said. “He was one of those kids who had a conflict, he wanted to make sure it worked out.”

Odin passed away at the beginning of this school year, but his classmates wanted to make sure his goal was not forgotten.

“He was one of the very first people to ask me to be his friend,” Arellano said. 

That’s one reason why Girl Scout Troop 4020 decided to build a Buddy Bench. The bench is being unveiled on what was to be Odin’s 11th birthday is decorated with his favorite passion: bugs.

It took 2 months with help from parents to plan and finish this project. It was built so students wouldn’t have to be lonely on the playground.

“We want kids to like school,” Long said. “We want kids to want to be here and a lot of times not having that connectivity makes them not want to come to school.”

But like most playgrounds, this bench comes with a few rules:

  1. If you don’t have a friend, just take a seat and hopefully somebody will come
  2. If someone comes and invites you to play, to join them
  3. If there’s two people on the bench they can invite each other to play
  4. Be caring: Remember to check the bench often to see if anyone needs a buddy

It's rules like this that the school hopes will bring them together as a community.

“We try and help the community and make it better and by doing so we made the buddy bench,” classmate Georgia Franks said.

Rules set to let these students know they will always have a friend in Odin on the playground.

“He was very caring, very loving, great kid, (we will) miss him dearly,” Long said. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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