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How this Friendship Bench will fight bullies at one Henrico school

Posted at 12:02 PM, Sep 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-11 09:26:35-04

GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Bullying is a serious issue in schools across the nation. On Wednesday, Springfield Park Elementary School in Glen Allen received a weapon in the fight against bullies.

Acacia Woodley, who founded Tiny Girl, Big Dream, presented a Friendship Bench to the elementary school. While Woodley has made similar presentations in schools around the country, this is the first Friendship Bench in Virginia.

Acacia Woodley, who founded Tiny Girl, Big Dream, presented a Friendship Bench to Springfield Park Elementary School in Glen Allen.

Acacia Woodley, who founded Tiny Girl, Big Dream, presented a Friendship Bench to Springfield Park Elementary School in Glen Allen.

"What better way to discover what [a bully] is going through than to have a place for them to go and talk about it with somebody else," Woodley said.

During her presentation to Springfield Park students, Woodley said she learned about the importance of talking directly with bullies at a very young age.

"When I was in 5th grade I had a girl being mean to me," she said. "After a few months, I invited her to my house, just to see what was going on. She was going through a really rough time at home and did not know how to deal with it, so she took it out on me and a bunch of other kids."

Woodley said that experience taught her everyone has a time in their life when they need someone who will listen.

"That's why I created the Friendship Bench," she said.

Friendship Bench presented to Springfield Park Elementary School in Glen Allen.

Friendship Bench presented to Springfield Park Elementary School in Glen Allen.

Springfield Park principal Mandi Mulholland said the students were super excited about the bench. She said the Friendship Bench would be kept in the school's cafeteria so all students would have access to it and adults could keep an eye on it and help children in need.

The bench was paid for by a school volunteer who thought it was important to spread its message of friendship and tolerance.