PARMA HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Bullying has evolved in the age of social media, but one local Girl Scout Troop is bravely stepping up to stop it.
The troop was trying to earn a badge, but in the process, was able to help their school with the issue of bullying. They've developed a simple plan, but it seems to be working. They call it a "sidekick seat," complete with super hero stickers.
"If a kid is feeling lonely or bullied, he sits on the bench and this tells all the other children that this person needs a friend. And the children are encouraged to come over, sit at the bench, and talk to that person," explains eighth grader Lilliana Diteodoro.
"There's always someone you can talk to, even if you think there's not. There's always someone who can relate to you," says fellow eighth grader Madison Mostoller.
The girls of Girl Scout Troop 70520 felt the bench would be a perfect fit for the Learning Garden at Incarnate Word Academy in Parma Heights. The idea helped earn them their Silver Award for a community service project.
"We got the bench from Ikea and we built it together as a troop," says Tyler Kolenich.
"I'm really grateful that it's here because we put a lot of hard work and time into our bench. Like, over 50 hours that we did and it's just really cool that it's at our school and it can stay here even when we leave next year," says Nicole Wloszek-Therens.
The girls put the bench together as a team and then went to classrooms, pre-K through eighth grade, to explain it. They say even that was a learning experience.
"We passed out brochures and the kids seemed really excited. And they were sharing their stories about how they had been bullied in the past and they were hoping that this bench would help them make friends," says Diteodoro.
The bench sits right off the playground and we're told it's already been used a couple of times by kids who needed a little support.
"There's someone there for them. Like, there's always someone looking out for them whenever, no matter what, they always have a friend in need and they're always there," says Maya Rusnak.
The girls hope the project inspires other schools to create their own version of a buddy bench for playgrounds.
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