A new project sparks friendship on the playground

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COLUMBIA — Recess for some kids, isn't all fun and games. Some kids have trouble making friends and interacting with others during free time. 

Columbia teen Joe Jenner hopes to change that. 

Jenner is a 16-year-old at Tolton Catholic High School and is in the process of becoming an eagle scout. 

"The whole point is to learn life lessons like how to cook, how to be safe, how to problem solve on your own," Jenner said. 

Jenner said becoming an eagle scout takes a lot of work, time and effort, but one part of the process has taken up most of his time. 

Jenner built "buddy benches" for the playground of Russell Boulevard Elementary School. The purpose of the benches are for kids at recess who feel lonely to come, sit, and find a new friend to play with. 

"I think the kids are going to love them," Principal Jill Brown said. "I think it just gives them a place to go and sit instead of wandering around the playground looking for a friend. They have a location to go to, and we can teach the other kids that when you see someone there you can go and grab a friend and play together." 

Jenner has dedicated his time the past several months crafting these benches for the students at Russell Boulevard. 

Jean and Mike Jenner, Joe's parents, said they are proud of their son for taking the initiative to do this project and help the kids at the elementary school.