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VanGo, an arts-based nonprofit social service organization in Lawrence, Kansas, unveiled the art benches created by this summer’s Benchmark participants last Friday evening. Two of the benches were commissioned by Outside for a Better Inside to be installed at the Baker Wetlands on August 5.

“We, as a community group, feel that the Baker Wetlands is a special place that offers wonderful programs and a great place for people to embrace nature,” said Mary Jones of Outside for a Better Inside. “We feel that children that play creatively in nature are smarter, healthier, and happier. We are most appreciative of the continued support as we continue our collaboration with the Baker Wetlands for future activities.”

Dr. Irene Unger , director of the Baker Wetlands, is also excited about this collaboration with Outside for a Better Inside.

“We are very grateful to them for their generous donation,” Unger said. “During the process we had a chance to work with the artists and are very impressed by their creativity. The benches are simply beautiful, and we hope that people who come to see the benches will linger for a while to enjoy natural beauty that is the Baker University Wetlands.”

Jafiya Birdling named the bench he created “Into the Outdoors.”

“My bench was created to highlight the landscape and natural elements of the Baker Wetlands, while conveying the missions of Outside for a Better Inside,” Birdling said. “There are two red doors opening up, with a bird soaring through, to show the freedom that being outside can offer.”

“Wetlands,” was created by Koby Owen.

“Because the bench will be located out at the Baker Wetlands, I wanted to include animals and plants that live in that area, like the blue heron, small-mouth bass, cattails, and a copperhead snake,” Owen said. “I hope that this bench inspires the viewers to want to be outside.”

To plan your trip to visit the Baker Wetlands to see these benches for yourself, visit bakerU.edu/wetlands.

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