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Reading Lesson Comes to Life as 'Buddy Bench'

Students Sitting on Buddy Bench

An ordinary reading lesson turned into a bench for students in need of company thanks to Kathy Decker's third grade class at Urbandale Elementary School.

The Battle Creek students read about the "Buddy Bench" in their "Weekly Reader" and decided they needed a similar bench for their school.

Appropriately named, "Buddy Benches" give students a place to go if they feel alone, left out, or just need someone to play with.

Principal Wesley Seeley was inspired by his students' initiative and approached a friend at Landscape Forms in Kalamazoo for help to make the bench a reality.

Landscape Forms, which designs and produces site furniture for outdoor spaces in order to create a sense of place and connection, was happy to assist. Instead of simply supplying a bench, the company provided the materials needed and invited the students to its facility to design and assemble the bench themselves. Landscape Forms provided helpers, but the students did most of the work.

Assembling Buddy Bench

United Education Credit Union sponsored the costs for the students' trip.

On the field trip students interacted with engineers and designers to understand how the project was designed, manufactured, and finally assembled.

Students selected a bench from Landscape Form's Plainwell series and customized the decking area with bumblebee yellow coloring and cosmic blue arms and legs.

A long-time supporter of education, Landscape Forms viewed this project as an opportunity to help kids think about their futures in addition to providing an outlet for interaction.

"We love these opportunities to interact with kids, to show them the possibilities for careers when they are older," said Becky Fulgoni, Executive Vice President for People and Operations at Landscape Forms. "Today they learned about designers, engineers, and architects. We hope a few of them join us in another 15 years."

Assembled Buddy Bench

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