Sisters determined to show kindness with 'Buddy Bench'

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  • Sienna Templeton (left), Dr. Gayle Carrick (center) and Charlize Templeton (right) stand by one of the new Buddy Benches at The Fredon Elementary School. The sisters demonstrated great diligence in seeing that these benches, which promote kindness and friendship, became a reality. Photo provided by Fredon School

By Laurie Gordon

— Last year, Charlize and Sienna Templeton presented the idea of bringing a “Buddy Bench” to the Fredon Elementary School. A year later, their idea has become a reality and last Monday night, they were applauded for their efforts to spread kindness and promote friendships. These are great qualities, but also throw in a lot of determination.

“There's an entire concept behind the Buddy Bench,” said the girls' mother, Tara Templeton. “It's about being kind, finding friends and never feeling alone or left out. I'm very proud of them.”

The girls read an article about a year and a half ago about a school that had a Buddy Bench.

Templeton said, “They loved the idea of having one at their school so they asked myself and my husband, Charlie, how they could get one at Fredon Elementary School. We told them that was a decision the school would have to make. They wrote their ideas down on paper and gave Mr. Dolan (the former superintendent) their proposal.”

Dolan loved the idea and met with the Templeton girls do discuss ideas further. Not long after, Dolan had to leave the school due to an unexpected health issue. The sisters were sad to see Dolan leave under such circumstances and knew their idea would have to go on hold.

But they didn't abandon it. These sisters are both excellent students and accomplished athletes. When they put their minds to something, they see it through.

When Dr. Gayle Carrick came in as the new superintendent, the girls pursued their idea once again and resubmitted their proposal to her. Over the summer, their idea became a reality and three Buddy Benches were brought to the school. All were strategically placed where the kids play: one on the playground, one on the blacktop and one on the field.

The concept behind Buddy Benches is to eliminate loneliness and foster friendships on the playground. If a child is feeling left out or is new to the school and doesn't have anyone to play with, they can sit on the bench and once another kid sees them sitting there, they go and invite them to play.

“The bench is not for socializing. You only sit there if you need a friend,” Templeton said.

Dr. Carrick and the Board of Education recognized the girls at the Board of Education Meeting on Monday night, thanking them for their idea and honoring them for promoting kindness and creating a positive school climate. They were presented with a certificate of appreciation by the superintendent and Courtney Wisinski, the Board of Education president.

Charlize Templeton is now at seventh grader at Kittatinny Middle School and her sister, Sienna, is in fifth grade at The Fredon Elementary School.

Charlize Templeton said, “The Buddy Bench is a place for kids to go when they're feeling alne at recess. The purpose of this Buddy Bench is to make sure every kid has a friend to play with. I sure wish I was in the school to use it and help out some kids who are feeling lonely. I've moved up to seventh grade now, but I'm glad my sister and the younger kids get to use it.”

Sienna Templeton said, “I wanted the Buddy Benches in my school because I have felt alone before and needed someone to play with. I hope the Buddy Bench idea will work for everyone who feels lonely at times. I'm very proud that Dr. Carrick and the board of Education has worked this out, and I want to make the Buddy Benches work for everyone.”

Dr. Carrick said of the benches, “They definitely enhance our school environment and most importantly, they show how [the Templeton sisters] personally went above and beyond to make a difference, promote friendship and create a positive school climate.”

The girls started this process when they were in third and fifth grades. It's been a long time coming, but they have truly demonstrated that you're never too young to push for something in which you believe. In this case, friendship and kindness.

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