St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School Unveils Friendship Bench to Mark Canada’s Mental Health Week

Becomes the first elementary school in Canada to receive a Friendship Bench for mental health

Toronto, ON May 2nd, 2016 – Today St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Elementary School in Oakville, Ont. Became the first elementary school in Canada to receive a Friendship Bench for mental health. The bright yellow bench will serve as a safe space for students to connect with their peers and serves as a permanent and visual reminder of the importance of speaking openly about mental health issues.

The bench is part of the #YellowIsForHello initiative created by The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench campaign, a national not-for-profit based in Oakville. The organization is installing benches at three Canadian schools and launching associated programming during Mental Health Week this year, in an effort to connect Canadian students in need of help with existing mental health resources, both on and off campus.

Hoping to raise awareness of mental health issues, Friendship Bench Co-Founder and Oakville resident Sam Fiorella and his friends launched #YellowIsForHello in April, 2015.

Installing a bench at St. Marguerite d’Youville is particularly significant for Oakville resident Sam Fiorella, as his son Lucas graduated from the Halton Catholic District School Board.

“Losing Lucas opened our eyes to the epidemic of mental health issues among students and the need to raise awareness and erase stigma,” said Fiorella. “We’re proud to be helping St. Marguerite d’Youville to do just that by encouraging personal connections and conversations about mental health at a young age. It is the first elementary school in Canada to receive a bench and I can’t think of a better way to mark Mental Health Week 2016.”

“What a blessing and a privilege to be able to mark the beginning of Catholic Education week with this celebration of hope, peace and friendship. With the support and direction of their amazing teacher, Mrs. Theresa Merritt, students were able to raise enough money to purchase a Friendship Bench and become the first elementary school to do so. Our Principal, Mr. Tony Agro is so proud of these graduating students for putting our Catholic faith into action in a way that resonates so deeply for so many of us,” says Mrs. Lyn Hartman, School Council Chair and Vice Chair for the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC) for the Halton District Catholic School Board.

About The Friendship Bench

The bright, yellow Friendship Bench is the centerpiece of a national student mental health awareness effort created to encourage more peer-to-peer conversations on the subject. Friendship Benches were installed at five Canadian campuses in 2015. Nine additional benches have been confirmed already in 2016, with several more in the planning stages.

The Lucas Fiorella Friendship Bench campaign provides mental health tips and coping strategies for students, as well as provides access to the growing list of on-campus mental health services, so that fewer students will suffer in silence.

Connect with The Friendship Bench:


For media inquiries and high resolution images, please contact:

Lyn Hartman
Chair, School Council
Vice Chair – Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC)
Halton Catholic District School Board

Alison King
Communications Director
The Friendship Bench