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Girl Scouts spread kindness through new bench


St. Louis, MO – January 17, 2017 – It’s common for kids to retreat from others when they are sad or mad or just don’t know what to play with or whom. Girl Scout Troop 233 at Gateway Science Academy found a solution to this childhood dilemma, by donating a buddy bench to their school. The troop, comprised of 15 third-grade Girl Scout Brownies, took the lead to make sure everyone at their school has a friend at recess.

Buddy benches give children a safe, nonjudgmental place to retreat. If a child feels left out or lonely during recess, he or she can sit on a buddy bench and wait until another student notices and invites them to play. The bench allows kindness to spread and encourages new friendships.

In May 2016, The St. Louis Airport Hilton reached out to one of Troop 233’s leaders to see if she knew of a local organization that needed a bench, as part of its “Go Green” initiative. Deciding to pursue the project, the girls shared information with their school principal, family members and local businesses. In about six months, the troop collected almost 500 pounds of plastic soda caps, empty prescription bottles and high-grade plastics, like Tupperware, to be melted down. The troop delivered the recyclables to Green Tree Plastics, located in Evansville, Ind., which manufactured the bench. The Hilton covered the cost of the bench, which was installed next to the school’s playground.

“The girls put their leadership skills on display by standing in front of their school to tell students what they were doing,” Troop Leader Dana Stuemke said. “The girls really took ownership of the project and were very proud of what they’ve done.”

The Girl Scouts also created a video about the buddy bench to share with their school. After students watch the video, they sign a pledge banner stating they will spread kindness by always being a friend.

“I’ve seen someone on the bench, but by time I got over there, they were gone,” Girl Scout Brownie Ava Stuemke said. “It felt good to see that happen!”

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. The premier leadership organization for girls is designed to help a girl discover who she is, what she can do and connects her with a powerful community to make it happen. With unique opportunities Girl Scouts explore, learn, succeed and take action to make a difference in their community.