In the fall of 2014, Lani Moore, daughter of Michael and Amanda Moore, heard about the contest from her fifth grade teacher, Mr. Justin Smith. Lani wrote a letter to Mr. Bright explaining why she feels Reid students could benefit from a Buddy Bench. A few months later Mr. Bright brought Lani into his office to inform her that she had been selected as a winner of the essay contest. As a result, Colonial Park Mall delivered a Buddy Bench to Reid Elementary in July 2015. Lani is now a student at MAMS but she hopes the Buddy Bench will encourage her former schoolmates at Reid to reach out to those who are in need of a friend during recess.
The Essay Contest is open to all area school children ages 5 to 12. Essays of no more than 500 words are written as a letter to the principal stating why the student thinks their school should have a Buddy Bench, how they plan to educate their peers about the Buddy Bench, and what they will do to ensure its success.
Harrisburg’s Colonial Park Mall donates Buddy Benches to local area elementary schools through an Essay Contest. The Buddy Bench project was started in 2013 by a Pennsylvania first grader named Christian as a way to eliminate loneliness and encourage friendships on the playground. Any child who feels lonely or needs someone to play with, can sit on the bench. When a student sees a classmate sitting on the bench they are encouraged to invite him or her to play. It is a simple idea that has already spread to school playgrounds around the country.
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