8-year-old Pitches "Buddy Bench" Plan to Dubuque School Board

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Clare Vosberg-Pagent,8, knows what it's like to be "The New Kid." Hoover Elementary is her third school in four years. So, she's had to figure out how to make new friends several times.

"I'm just like nice to them and then they're like nice to me and then we're friends," Clare said.

But she's noticed that's not so easy for everyone. She says it made her sad to see other kids playing alone on the playground.

"It's like a bench on the playground that kids go to if they're feeling lonely or want somebody to talk to or play with," Clare said. "And then somebody would come to the bench and play with them or talk to them."

On Monday, she presented her "buddy bench" plan to the Dubuque Community School Board. Standing on a box, so she could see over the podium, Clare explained how she raised money for the bench and now wants to donate it the school.

School Board President Mike Donahue said, "The power lies with the students. Their ability to make a difference and step up if they see someone is being bullied and to stop to it. I think the power lies with the students. Anyone who listened to Clare agrees the power is with Clare. "

And that's a power, she doesn't take lightly.

"I'm trying to build friendships for the whole community. My mission statement is this: I am an 8 year old kid who wants to change the world by building friendships and making our community a better place," said Clare.

The local organization Resources Unite helped Clare organize the fundraising. She convinced Lowe's to donate the bench. And other local companies will install it for free. She says she hopes the bench at Hoover will be the first of many at schools all over the city.
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