CWU Students Construct Buddy Benches for Local School

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Construction management students at Central Washington University (CWU) are trying to encourage friendship on the playground with their latest project: the buddy bench.

The CWU students built three buddy benches for the nearby Mount Stuart Elementary playground in hopes of eliminating loneliness and fostering friendships at recess. The concept behind the two-person bench is that if a student doesn’t have a friend to play with at recess, they sit on the bench and wait for someone to come sit with them.

Local community member Linnet Botkin spearheaded bringing buddy benches to the area. Botkin connected with Dr. Warren Plugge, a professor in the CWU construction management department, who encouraged eight students to take on the project.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity for our students to get involved with a community service type project that could help the community but also students at a local elementary,” Plugge told the Daily Record News.

Now that the benches are built, students from the fifth-grade class at Mount Stuart will paint them before they are placed on the school grounds at the start of next year.

“I hear about bullying and it breaks my heart,” Botkin told the Daily Record News. “I like the thought that there’s somewhere a child might go and just sit and other people would be aware and come over and say, ‘Want to come over and play?’”

The Mount Stuart Elementary buddy benches are among several others being integrated in school playgrounds across the country. The concept of buddy benches came to the U.S. several years ago when Pennsylvania elementary school student Christian Bucks brought the idea to his principal. Bucks had first seen the benches being used at a school in Germany, according to Christian’s Buddy Bench website.