PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A new community project in Region 8 is all about including others while honoring a child who lost his life.
Pay It Forward Paragould's new project is the Buddy Bench.
With the new project, they've decided to not only spread the lesson of acceptance but also remember 12-year-old Ross Curtner who was killed at the Crowley's Ridge Raceway earlier this month.
A Buddy Bench is designed to offer a safe place for kids who may be new to school or don't have anyone to play with.
The idea is if another kid sees someone sitting at the bench, they know to go over to the bench and include them.
Pay It Forward Paragould's first bench will be placed at Brookland School District.
It will say "Ross's Buddy Bench."
Jenna Boling is an 8th grader at Greene County Tech Junior High.
She volunteered to design the buddy bench even though she never met Curtner.
"I was trying to capture things he really enjoyed in there and to make it seem like something he would be proud of in the bench," Boling said. "I'm trying to make it cute and inviting so that everyone wants to go sit on that bench, and everybody just wants to accept each other and be friends because that's the idea behind it."
The design includes basketballs, baseballs and bats, a score board and a quote about making new friends.
Pay It Forward Paragould delivered the bench to Curtner's family on his birthday Friday.
They organization said on its Facebook page that they hope the bench "will make strangers into buddies and create lasting friendships like the ones he had with his buddies."
Beyond helping preserve Curtner's memory, Boling was excited to design a bench where kids can feel safe.
"As a kid who's been bullied all my life and stuff, I really like this idea," Boling said. "It's really cool."
Boling started working on the bench on Sept. 20th.
Dustin Rumsey with Pay it Forward Paragould said they already have plans for more Buddy Benches.
"I already have people volunteered ready to make them and paint them so we are going to be pushing these out pretty quick," Rumsey said.
He said they plan is to build between 25 and 30 benches for area schools and parks.
To help fund the Buddy Bench movement in Region 8 visit Pay It Forward's gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/sx57qr7g.
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