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Eagle Scout Donates Bench to Help Bullied Kids

Nov 06, 2015 12:53PM, Published by Bryan Scott, Categories: Local Life

By Margaret Spencer

West Jordan - West Jordan Elementary School held an assembly on Sept. 16 to celebrate achieving Lighthouse level in the Leader in Me program, which is implemented in schools with a focus on every student being capable of being a leader. In addition to the celebration, they also honored Eagle Scout Blake Gentilcore

The buddy bench was inspired by a TED talk, given by Charlie Cooper from Australia, that Blake had watched with his mother back in May.

The idea of a buddy bench is to have a designated place for someone to go to if they are feeling alone, sad or bullied: sitting on the bench is a global signal that they need a friend. Having suffered bullying as a child himself, Blake really liked the idea.

He met with the principal of West Jordan Elementary, Norman Emerson, and explained what the project was and what he had in mind. Emerson, a former Eagle Scout himself, was almost ready to say no, but heard him out. 

After listening to his entire plan and his reasons behind it, Emerson was impressed and wholeheartedly thanked Blake for his idea and asked when he could start. 

“We loved the idea and were excited to have it happen,” Ron Boshard, the risk management coordinator, said.

After many emails with the school board to get permission, and then later finding out what kind of safety measures he would have to take into consideration, he was finally given the approval. 

As soon as he was given the go-ahead, he began to raise money to pick out the bench that he later ordered from Kirby Belt Products. He and a friend assembled it by themselves.

After much debate and coordinating, the location of the bench was decided. It was placed right between the playground, the basketball courts and soccer field. This way anyone from any side of the school can use it and be seen from any place behind the school. 

In the assembly, Gentilcore explained to the children how the bench works. He told them that if they see anyone sitting there, they should go over and talk to them and find out if they are okay. 

“You might make a new friend,” he said. 

Later, while being interviewed by Channel 4 News, he mentioned that he hopes this bench will not only help with bullying and making friends, but will also inspire kids to do Scouting as well. 

Bullying is a huge problem in schools. There is a national campaign which includes an entire week dedicated to bullying: how to spot it, how to prevent it and what to do if you see it. This bench will hopefully help those who feel bullied find friends and receive comfort and support.        

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