Big Kids

Amazing 9-year-old turns recycled bottle caps into an inclusive playground

Little Sammie Vance is only 9-years-old, but she's already helping to make the world a better place. 

She drew a comic strip featuring "Buddy Benches" a place where lonely children can sit if they want to make friends. 

“If somebody’s lonely or if they’re new to the school and they don’t have anybody to play with, they can sit on the bench,” she explained to USA Today. “If other people see them on the bench, they’ll come up to them and ask them to play. And they can play together.”

In order to make her dream a reality, she enlisted the help of her mother, Heidi and older children from her school. Together they collected bottle caps from around the school and community. Making the benches out of the recycled plastic needs 400 lbs of plastic, Sammie and her friends collected enough for three benches. She even donated some of the left over plastic to another school. 

The benches have become a huge success in the school. Teachers and students watch the benches to make sure that no child is sat there too long. If they are, then a new friend is on the way. 

The bench also forms a safe space from bullying, where if a child is feeling vulnerable then they can find refuge on the bench, watched by the teachers. 

Sammie received a certificate of excellence from the local Mayor, and is set on one day having his job! 

As for her mother, she couldn't be prouder of Sammie. 

“I just can’t stop smiling when I think about it," she said. 

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