After learning about buddy benches at summer Bible camp, 12-year-old Sammie Vance of Fort Wayne, Indiana has been on a crusade to help her peers combat their loneliness.
Buddy benches are specially constructed benches on a school’s playground where a lonely child can sit to signal to other kids that they are in need of a friend.
Sammie said, “I’m like, ‘This would be really cool to have at my school.'”
After speaking to her principal, the principal shared the idea with the PTA. Collectively, they helped mobilize the school to collect 1,600 pounds of bottle caps, all recycled and repurposed to create three buddy benches at her elementary school.
Called Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project, in honor of Sammie bringing the idea to the school, the PTA has helped get over 200 benches fashioned from bottle caps and donated to schools and parks around the globe ranging from Mexico to Australia.
“At the beginning of my project, I had absolutely no idea it would turn out anything like this,” she says. “It amazes me and keeps me motivated to know that it is impacting people outside of the country as well.”
Sammie details her journey in a recently published book, Inspire the World: A Kid’s Journey to Making a Difference.
Sammie’s mother Heidi Vance said, “She’s always had a really big heart. In second grade, when there was a little girl who didn’t speak English in her class, Sammie came home and insisted on teaching herself Spanish so she could communicate with the girl.
“And at that point, I really started to see her heart for other people and not wanting anybody to be left out.”
Sammie hopes that her work will inspire other children to engage the adults around them remembering no idea is too small to make an impact.
She said, “I just look forward to making a difference and inspiring other people to make a difference.”
Source: People Magazine