WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Erin Ryan, a sixth grader at Memorial Middle School in Woodland Park, recently earned her Girl Scout Bronze Award, which is the third highest award you can earn in Girl Scouting. She created a "Buddy Bench" for Beatrice Gilmore School, which was recently unveiled before the entire student body.

Erin built, painted and decorated the bench herself with assistance from her parents Gerald and Trish Ryan. A "Buddy Bench" is a designated seating area where students feeling lonely or upset can seek camaraderie. Designating such a bench is a helpful way for schools to facilitate peer support among students, a critical factor in combating school bullying.