Friendship bench heals all wounds at Florida elementary school


Acacia Woodley, a sixth-grader in Florida, had the idea for a "Friendship Bench" at her school, where kids can sit back and have a shoulder to lean on. (Tim Shortt/FLORIDA TODAY)
November 27, 2012

For most of Acacia Woodley’s 10 years, she has noticed people staring at her.

The sixth-grader at Palm Bay Elementary School in Florida was born without a right hand; her left hand is deformed.

“Some people say they feel sorry for me. I tell them not to be,” she said. “I don’t care that I’m different. I like that I’m different.”

So when Acacia moved to Florida recently, she had an idea for her new school. She suggested having a place where anyone could go when they need a friend, some support or even a hug. It’s called a “friendship bench.”

If a student sits on the bench, it’s a signal to classmates — and nearby adults — that it’s time to become a friend.

Principal Lori Migliore uses the bench almost every day as a positive end to what often is a hurtful event between children. After winding up in the principal’s office for horsing around or shoving, students sit on the friendship bench, which is decorated with positive words including “respect.”

SECTION: {section=lifestyle, subsection=kidspost}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: {allow_comments=true, allow_photos=false, allow_videos=false, comments_period=14, comments_source=washpost.com, default_sort=, default_tab=, display_comments=true, is_ugc_gallery=false, max_items_to_display=15, max_items_to_display_top=3, moderation_required=false, stream_id=}!!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=bg52e9xhqr, moderationrequired=false, display_more=true, includefeaturenotification=true, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, defaultsort=reverseChronological, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, childrenitemsperpage=3, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, includesorts=true, includeheader=true, defaulttab=all, includeverifiedcommenters=true, includerecommend=true, maxitemstop=3, includereport=true, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=15, includepause=true, display_ugc_photos=false, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!