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'Buddy benches' teaching Wisconsin students kindness, one bench at a time

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Posted at 5:31 AM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 07:49:07-05

TWIN LAKES — In our Two America’s series, we are shining a light on places you may not have visited. But you might relate to the issues being faced.

A construction business owner shares how he is building a new way to teach children in a southwestern Kenosha County school district how to be kind, one bench at a time.

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Among the beautiful sights in charming Twin Lakes are sounds of a busy playground at Lakewood Elementary.

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Nestled to the side is a bench emblazoned with the school’s 'Raider's' mascot.

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“Whenever you’re bullied, you can come sit over here,” said third grader Charlie Nelson.

“You don’t have to be rude to anyone like people were rude to you. Treat others how you want to be treated,” said third grader Sierra McAlister.

“You don’t know if people are going through something,” said third grader Kennedi Holster.

It is called The Buddy Bench.

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9-year-old Sierra shared a time when she felt hurt by a classmate. “She said that she was sorry about bullying me, and then I said that it's okay and I accepted her apology and then we went to go and play tag," said Sierra.

8-year-old Charlie shared how sitting on the bench turned his day around. “I was kinda sad because a lot of people were crowding one of the slides. So I went over to sit on the buddy bench and one of my friends came over and asked if they wanted to play," said Charlie.

Jim Scherrer created the bench. His construction company has remodeled countless elementary schools across southeast Wisconsin.

“When we're done building a school, what can we do to leave something behind to help the children be more kind?" said Scherrer.

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All of them are installed for free, thanks to his non-profit called Scherrer Cares.

So far, he has donated about 100 benches to schools and public parks across southeast Wisconsin.

Lakewood Elementary’s principal Bronwyn Knapp believes it's become an important tool for the students' social-emotional learning curriculum. They are taught to be an ‘up stander.'

“You can be a bystander and watch something happen and not be part of the solution. The opposite of that is being an up stander. So, seeing something happen and then helping them get through," said Knapp.

Sherrer Cares foundation donates these custom benches to schools. They also help schools put a program together to teach students its true meaning. He hopes to install more of these benches in schools across southeast Wisconsin, including at middle and high schools.

Click here to apply for a bench or donate.

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