Dubuque girl fights bullying, loneliness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque girl fights bullying, loneliness

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

An eastern Iowa girl is on a personal mission to create a world where kids aren't picked on, bullied or left out. Clare Vosberg-Padget is a third-grade student at Hoover Elementary School in Dubuque.  For the past week, Clare has been working towards creating a "buddy bench" for her elementary school. A buddy bench is a place where students can sit if they are lonely during recess. Then, other students can go to the bench and ask if they want to play or talk.

Clare Vosberg-Padget said she found the idea through her mom's Facebook page and wanted to look into getting one for her elementary school.

"Everyday I would see somebody sitting outside and not having anyone to play with," Clare said. "I would ask them if they would like to play with me and they would just move away because they are scared to talk to anybody. They are afraid they are going to ditch them to."

Clare said it hurt her to see classmates sitting alone on the playground.

"It just doesn't seem fair to me. They are just sitting there with no one to play with." Clare said.

"Clare thinks that everybody needs more friends," said Clare's mom, Tricia Szalkowski, "She likes everybody

to be friends. She has a sister that inspires her with some of the difficult friendships that she has had."

Clare's older sister, Madie Vosberg, had a brain tumor removed when she was a baby and now has a brain injury and epilepsy.

"Having seen Madie struggles she understands what other kids feel when they struggle. She [Clare] doesn't want to see her sister struggle or anybody else." Szalkowski said.

Clare has been working closely with different members of the Dubuque community, as well as different organizations to help her achieve that goal of creating a buddy bench for her school. A Facebook page called "Clare Cares" has even been created for Clare. Currently, the page has more than a thousand "likes" with many people showing their support for her projects.

"What I love is that she doesn't say she has 1,200 "likes". She says 'mom I have 1,200 friends." said Szalkowski.

Through the Facebook page, others have even discussed created "buddy benches" for every school in Dubuque.

In the coming weeks, Clare, as well as different members in the Dubuque community, will be meeting with school officials to discuss the possibility of a "buddy bench" at Hoover Elementary School. Clare said she hopes to have a bench installed at Hoover Elementary School by the end of the school year.

Along with the "buddy bench," Clare Vosberg-Padget is also working towards creating a monthly play group for kids in the Dubuque area. She said she currently has a play group set up on February 2nd at Jumpin' Jane's in Dubuque. She said the play group is just another way to make more friends.

"They can build more friendship for kids and then the kids can give back to the community." Clare said.

She is also creating a drive called "Warm toes, Grateful hearts" with her mom. It's a winter clothing drive for kids who may not have winter clothing. Clare said she hopes to start the drive next winter.

"It's for the kids that don't have snow boots, snow pants, and coats. We will be giving them that stuff." Clare said.

For more information about "Clare Cares", CLICK HERE.

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