Buddy Benches are currently used to encourage inclusion in elementary schools, and the City of Edmonton is hoping the same principle can help reduce urban isolation in our city. On June 27, 2017, Buddy Benches were placed in Edmonton neighbourhoods as a pilot project to help turn strangers into neighbours.
These benches are specifically painted to invite people to sit on them. If someone notices a person sitting on a Buddy Bench, they are encouraged to sit with them and start up a conversation.
The Buddy Bench Pilot Project is part of the “Hello, How Are You?” campaign, which encompasses two council initiatives: the Council Initiative on Urban Isolation and Mental Health and the Council Initiative on Seniors. The campaign encourages Edmontonians to connect within their communities to help prevent social isolation. The pilot came about after a young boy approached city administration hoping to have his school’s Buddy Bench concept implemented on a larger scale. Thanks to this suggestion, Buddy Benches will allow Edmontonians of all ages to support each other and start up a conversation simply by saying “Hello, how are you?”