Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School Unveils The Friendship Bench Sept. 18National student mental health awareness program inspired by Holy Trinity Oakville grad
Oakville, ON – Sept. 15, 2015 Canadian non-profit organization The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench has selected Oakville’s Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School to be the first high school in Canada to receive a Friendship Bench.
The bright yellow bench serves as a year-round visual reminder for students to speak openly about mental health issues and to encourage them to both ask for help and offer it to those in need. In addition, the organization will support the high school’s existing mental health programming.
The official unveiling of the bench will be held Friday, September 18 at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School immediately following a school mass, which commences at 10 AM. The Friendship Bench and school volunteers will be present during the lunch hours following the unveiling to speak to students and share mental health information. Students, faculty, members of the media and the public are encouraged to attend.
Installing a bench at Holy Trinity is particularly poignant for Oakville resident Sam Fiorella, co-founder of The Friendship Bench, as his son Lucas graduated from Holy Trinity in 2013.
“Lucas opened our eyes to the epidemic of mental health issues among students and the need to raise awareness of both the issue and of the many resources that are in place to help them cope with stress, anxiety, depression and the challenges of school. The Friendship Bench aims to do just that by encouraging personal connections and conversations about mental health, as well as connecting students to the many support services offered at the school. We want to start conversations and raise awareness among students, parents, faculty and staff.”
“The Friendship Bench is a visible reminder to all members of our community about the importance of talking about mental health,” says Justine O’Grady, Principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School. “We hope it will serve as an additional tool to increase student and staff awareness on the various strategies and programs in support of mental health that are in place in our school and across our district.”
About The Friendship Bench
The yellow bench was chosen as the organization’s icon because it represents students taking a moment out of their hectic lives to stop and engage each other. It will serve as a constant visual reminder of the importance of mental health awareness and conversations among students in Canadian schools, where mental health concerns are on the rise. Further, each bench will feature a URL where students can quickly access on-campus and local mental health services.
In addition to installing the bench on campus, the volunteer organization coordinates local and national awareness campaigns, creates and curates mental health tips and coping strategies for students, and facilitates students accessing the growing list of on-campus mental health services so that no students will suffer in silence.
Alison King, Communications Director