EC buddy bench Aug2016 web

In an effort to make recess more enjoyable for all students, Elm Creek Elementary recently partnered with the Maple Grove Lowe’s Home Improvement store to install two “buddy benches.” The benches, located next to the school’s basketball court, were donated by Lowe’s as part of its Lowe’s Heroes program, an initiative where employees volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities.

While new to the United States within the last three years, buddy benches can be found at schools and playgrounds around the world. The concept is simple: if a student is new to the school or cannot find anyone to play with, he or she can sit on the buddy bench. When other students see someone sitting on the bench, they’re encouraged to invite their classmate to play. This commitment to inclusivity can foster new friendships and a greater sense of community at the school.

Dave Kuettner, Human Resources Manager at the Maple Grove Lowe’s store, contacted Elm Creek Elementary Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Lindberg last spring about the possibility of installing a bench at the school. Kuettner said he has two children who attend the school and noted the importance of getting involved in his community.

“Some of our past Lowe’s Heroes projects have been in other parts of the Twin Cities,” he said, “but we wanted this one to be more local. It’s good to give back to the community. There’s a lot of good stuff going on here.”

Photo: Elm Creek Elementary Principal Beth Ness (center) stands with the Lowe’s employees who installed the buddy benches on Aug. 23. Pictured left to right are: Andrew Christianson, Brian Alto, Beth Ness, Elliott Woodward and Dave Kuettner. Not pictured: Elm Creek Elementary Volunteer Coordinator Sandy Lindberg and Lowe’s employee Ehren Essler.