9 Year Old Takes Big Steps to End Bullying

DUBUQUE – One nine year old is making a big impact in the community to stomp out bullying.

Clare Vosberg-Padget, a fourth grader at Hoover Elementary, became concerned with bullying after she experienced it secondhand through her sister, Madie.

“My sister, she has epilepsy, and that can cause seizures. And I don’t know if you have ever seen a seizure, but they’re pretty scary,” Clare informs.

Madie had a seizure in class one day, and a friend bullied her after the incident.

“This friend, they bullied her because she had a seizure. And she didn’t just bully her, she recruited other kids to bully her too,” Clare explains.

Wanting to see a change, Clare started Clare Cares. “I wanted to help my sister and all the other kids that get bullied,” Clare said.

Clare Cares has one main goal with a pretty ambitious mission statement:  “I am an 8 year old kid who wants to change the world by building friendships and making the community a better place.” Her first step to achieving this goal – Buddy Benches.

“What a Buddy Bench is, is a bench on a playground that kids go to when they are feeling lonely, need someone to talk to, or someone to play with,” Clare explains.

Clare got the idea for these helpful benches from a boy named Christian in Pennsylvania. She immediately knew that she wanted one of those benches at her school.

Teaming up with Josh Jasper at Resources Unite, a non-profit organization that helps other non-profits acquire volunteers and sponsors, Clare gave a speech to the School Board to put the plan in motion. With the School Board’s approval, sponsors were found to supply the materials. Edwards Cast Stone, Spahn and Rose, Fastenal, and Brannon Monuments all sponsored the Buddy Benches.

Now, there are 35 Buddy Benches at schools in the Tri-State area. Next step – Buddy Play Dates.

Clare now hosts play dates every month in which kids can come together, have fun, and make friends.

Not only are the events fun, they are also philanthropic.

“Our recent one was hosted by Mindframe Theaters and our give back to the community was Toys for Tots. We asked each friend to bring a new and unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots and together the 90 people that came we filled Santa’s sleigh with toys,” Clare excitedly told.

With all of this going on, Clare shows no sign of slowing down.

“She wants to change the world and she’s doing it one Buddy Bench at a time,” Josh said.

At just nine years old, she has a lot of time left to do just that.


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Allison is a senior at Loras College and is a Dubuque native. She's the Producer of LCTV News, along with Payton Van Vors, as well as an anchor and reporter. This past summer, Allison had an internship with KCRG in Dubuque, and she's continuing to work for them this Fall. Allison reports because she loves keeping her community informed on issues and events that matter to them.

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