University of Guelph’s ‘One Bench One Tree’ project honours health-care workers

A bench and a tree were dedicated to frontline workers at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, June 18 2021. Kevin Van Paassen / Sunnybrook

The University of Guelph says a fundraising project led by its students is offering “the gift of rest” to health-care workers across Canada who worked tirelessly against COVID-19.

The One Bench One Tree project aims to install a park-style bench and a native Canadian tree at hospitals across the country.

The university said it’s meant to provide a shady respite for nurses, doctors and other health-care workers.

“We want to give them the gift of rest by placing a tree and a bench in front of every hospital in Canada to thank them for their efforts,” said Alli Neuhauser, a second-year master of landscape architecture student and a member of the organizing committee.

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Other students on the project are Everett Dejong, Casey Ross, Manuel Spiller, Marika Li, Tiffany Adair, Ethan Aquino-Chien and Abigayle Lalonde.

The inaugural bench and tree were unveiled recently at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, where Canada’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed in early 2020.

A second installation will take place in August at Hamilton General Hospital.

The group is working with Landscape Ontario and have already attracted sponsors such as the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The first 10 benches have also already been donated by Maglin Site Furniture based in Woodstock, Ont.

The group is purchasing sugar, red and silver maple trees from NVK Nurseries in Hamilton, working in association with Maple Leaves Forever, a Toronto-based charitable foundation aiming to plant native maples across Canada.

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One Bench One Tree is accepting donations on its website and contacting more hospitals in Canada.

They hope to connect through Landscape Ontario with other nursery groups and contractors in Ontario and other provinces to extend the project.

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