Woodward School dedicates ‘buddy bench’ to Abbie Benford

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(l to r) Woodward School Principal Jim Randell, Amy Benford and Stephen Benford at the dedication of the new “buddy bench” Nov. 7. (Photo/submitted)
(l to r) Woodward School Principal Jim Randell, Amy Benford and Stephen Benford at the dedication of the new “buddy bench” Nov. 7. (Photo/submitted)

Southborough – The Albert S. Woodward School in Southborough introduced a new “buddy bench” to students during an assembly Nov. 7. The bench will be dedicated to Abbie Benford, a 15-year-old Hopkinton resident who died from anaphylaxis last December. Her mother, Amy Benford, is a teacher at Woodward School.

The Buddy Bench, a concept created by Pennsylvania second-grader Christian Buck, is an extension of the Woodward School’s anti-bullying program. It is a designated area where students feeling lonely or upset can seek camaraderie. If a student is having difficulty finding an activity to participate in at recess, he or she can sit on the Buddy Bench. When other children playing see a classmate on the bench they invite the child who is sitting there to play or talk with them. The idea is to empower students to recognize a need for intervention.

As an expression of the school community’s love and support for the Benford family, the parent group at Woodward (SOS) sponsored the bench and dedicated “Abbie’s Buddy Bench” in honor of Abbie.

“We heard many stories about the wonderful friend she was to all students,” wrote Principal Jim Randall in a press release. “She had a special knack for supporting the underdog and always making everyone feel welcome. We hope Abbie’s Buddy Bench will inspire that same type of compassion and kindness. Her legacy will continue in our students so that they can “Keep Smilin’.”

The Keep Smilin’ for Abbie organization is dedicated to increasing anaphylaxis awareness, funding leading edge research and funding two scholarships each year to high school seniors who are recognized through the Keep Smilin’ award. To find out more about this organization, visit www.keepsmilin4abbie.org.