The Buddy Bench: Nurturing and Encouraging Ideas

My family went on a walk this morning and eventually found ourselves at the playground of a local elementary school. While there my son pointed out the Buddy Bench that had been installed.

buddy bench 1

The bench was inscribed with the following message:

When you feel a little sad

And don’t know what to do…

Just have a seat and take a rest,

A Buddy will come to you.

buddy bench 2

What a nice concept … Sweet really.

My wife explained the story behind the Buddy Bench. See, apparently a student named Christian Buck from Roundtown Elementary in York, Pennsylvania had an idea and pitched it to his Principal, who worked with Christian to make his idea a reality.

There’s so much good in this story.

The benches are popping up all over the world. Here’s a picture of a bench being constructed by US Navy Seabees in Guam:

buddy bench guam

Christian’s idea was even highlighted on The Today Show back in 2013.

And I think all of this is wonderful.

But … well …

When I returned from our walk I began to wonder about how ideas like the Buddy Bench spread and how they are implemented. It was soon clear to me that, although the idea of the bench is nice and encourages kind action, perhaps schools and the media are missing opportunities to share what matters even more. What’s truly powerful about the Buddy Bench, and therefore what should be shared above all else, is how an environment was created to encourage and empower a young student to share his wonderful idea with his Principal.

The benches are great, but the process behind their creation is priceless.

All told, I can’t help but wonder … how many brilliant ideas can be shared and nurtured in the time it takes the bench I saw this morning to fade and weather?