Eunice Smith Elementary School students united together with Lewis and Clark Community College’s YouthBuild organization to create buddy benches, in a hope to build companionship and a neighborly atmosphere among students.
“The purpose of the benches is to help build friendships. If someone is feeling down or doesn’t have anyone to play with, then they sit on one of the benches and if someone sees them, then they go sit and talk to them and offer to play with them,” Director of YouthBuild Sabrina Davis said.
The benches were dedicated in honor of Sam Biggs, a kindergarten student at Eunice Smith, who died due to a rare childhood liver cancer on Jan. 28. While Biggs life was cut short, his personality and attitude is still alive today, and on display to those who had never met him:
“He [Biggs] was everyone’s buddy and a very friendly person,” YouthBuild student John Burton said.
YouthBuild is a L&C organization that serves to help young people ages 16 to 24 who are working towards achieving their General Educational Development (G.E.D.) Certificate. The organization has partnerships with over 30 local agencies in efforts to complete community service projects.
Sherrie Droste, a social skills tutor at Eunice Smith, reached out to L&C’s YouthBuild to collaborate with her students.
YouthBuild students are also enrolled as AmeriCorps members, a federal government supported civil society program that takes part in extensive community service. Students in the YouthBuild program are required to complete 450 hours of community service in a year.
The buddy benches constructed by YouthBuild were more than just another community service project to help students meet their hours requirement, it was a project that meant nearly as much to them as the students at Eunice Smith.
“A lot of our students struggled with traditional schooling and could really connect with the purpose behind the benches being built,” Davis said.
Prior to visiting Eunice Smith, the YouthBuild students had already assembled the benches, but deconstructed them on site to be able to piece together the parts alongside the elementary students.
Margaret Wisnasky, a YouthBuild student, was emotionally touched by her experience with the younger students:
“I felt motivated to be a better person. As a group, we were inspired by the kids knowledge of the tools!”
To learn more about the community changing projects that YouthBuild engages in, contact Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (618) 468-4193.
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