Fort Wayne’s AWS Foundation is celebrating its ten-year anniversary in 2017, and to celebrate the occasion, AWS presented a donation to the community.
AWS has served people with long-term intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in the Northeast Indiana community since 2007.
In concert with this mission and their ten-year anniversary, ten “Buddy Benches” will be donated to playgrounds in area schools. AWS Foundation CEO Patti Hays says it provides student in each school a new opportunity to make friends.
“The child who is perhaps challenged as to how to approach kids, feels a little lonely, knows to sit on the bench,” Hays says. “Children in the school are known to approach them and say, ‘please join in.’”
The donation is also an homage to four founding board members who have recently retired. Each of the board members selected a design for the benches, all of which were done by Fort Wayne artists.
Mayor Tom Henry was on hand to proclaim the day in honor of AWS. He says the donation helps fulfill the city’s mission of enhancing quality of place.
“We’ve all had a lonely period once in awhile, and it would have been nice to have been able to sit at a bench and perhaps someone join us and make our life at that particular time a little easier to cope with,” Henry said.
The schools in Fort Wayne to receive a Buddy Bench are Forest Park, Haley, Fairfield and Holland elementary schools and Memorial Park Middle School. Seven others were donated in other towns across Northeast Indiana.