In January, Friends for the East Cobb Park installed a new Buddy Bench in the park to help children find playmates. The bench was suggested by Rylan Tate and his mother Lori Tate. The two of them are regular visitors of East Cobb Park, and she’d often bring Rylan to get some energy out and to enjoy the day. However, she noticed that her second grader was often sad because he couldn’t find kids at the park interested in playing with him.

“I realized Rylan was having a difficult time finding friends because kids were playing with other children or the kids didn’t know how to respond to a request to play. He would finally find someone to play with, and we’d have to go.” shared Lori. It was after a trip like this that Rylan shared that he wished the park had a Buddy Bench like the one at his school, Tripp Elementary. Rylan often used that bench during recess to find other kids interested in playing.

Buddy Benches are popping up around the world to help eliminate loneliness, reduce bullying and foster friendship on the playground. Kids sit on the bench when they are looking for a friend to play with, and then another child walks up and encourages them to join the fun without fear of rejection after hearing about the benefits of the bench from Rylan, Lori sent a message to the Friends for the East Cobb Park suggesting that they put one in East Cobb Park. The Board members decided that it was a great idea and put aside the funds to build the bench.

The bench was placed inside the playground equipment area of East Cobb Park and has the words, “Buddy Bench” prominently displayed. Rylan can’t wait for warm weather, so he can visit the park again and try out the new bench.

“We are happy that we can make a difference in our community. Kids shouldn’t be sad at the park, and we hope that the Buddy Bench helps children find each other and enjoy time playing together,” said Lori.