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Building bonds through benches in the Poconos

EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - A teenager in the Poconos wants to make sure everyone has a friend on the playground, so he recently developed an idea for younger students to help foster friendships and leave loneliness behind.

Marcus Ruiz, 14, needed to find an Eagle Scout project. He sat on a few options before coming up with "buddy benches."

"I stumbled across the idea on a website," Ruiz told Eyewitness News.

The freshman at East Stroudsburg High School recruited his parents, brother, and friends to build and paint six benches. Then, they delivered them to each elementary school in the East Stroudsburg School District.

"The buddy benches are mainly in the playground to foster friendships, promote conversation, but the most important, in my opinion is to teach compassion," Ruiz said.

The principal of one of the elementary schools said she was impressed.

"It's wonderful for kids that don't have anybody to play with or they may be feeling sad one day. They'll go out and sit on it and another kid will come over and talk with them," J.M. Hill Elementary School Principal Michelle Arnold said.

Ruiz said he was bullied in school growing up and he doesn't want any other kid to go through that.

"So if the buddy benches at least changes one student, that would be enough," Ruiz said.

Ruiz said he has to have meeting with several scout officials before they decide if he will obtain the Eagle Scout rank. It is the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scout program.

 


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