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Blog Posts 2022

Compassionate York Region is Happy About their Happy to Chat Bench

photo of a woman sitting on a bench looking at a lake and mountains with title Compassionate York Region is Happy About their Happy to Chat Bench


It is just an ordinary bench that has on it a plaque that, along with graphics of 2 people talking on a bench, there is the text "Sit here if you don't mind someone stopping to say hello," located on the main street in downtown Richmond Hill, Ontario. 

By sitting on a Happy to Chat bench, people will know that you're open to a friendly talk.  

It is a small gesture to encourage people to make new friends, break down social isolation barriers, and get people talking.

Benches, by design, are compassionate. A bench can represent compassion in several ways. For example, it can provide a place for people to sit and rest, especially those who may be tired or need support. A bench is usually sturdy, in this way, the bench can symbolize the idea of offering comfort and care to others. Additionally, the fact that a bench is typically a public space, where people from different backgrounds and walks of life can sit together, can also represent the idea of coming together with compassion and understanding for one another.

Compassionate York Region (CYR) will not take credit for this idea of Happy to Chat benches. They know about Happy to Chat benches in New Brunswick, the UK, and Portugal. 


CYR received in the fall of 2022 a Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan, Quick Action Grants, an initiative led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region. The grants were for projects led by community members, to increase a sense of belonging, neighborhood safety, and access to mental health.

The CYR team celebrated, and cut the ribbon, on a cold day in December 2022.


- Compassionate York Region


The Compassionate Community Initiative of York Region is weaving compassion into the community's social fabric. It foresees (4C) Creating Conversations for a Compassionate Community that invites voices across all sectors. 

Learn about this Compassionate Community in Canada HERE.