The Trees for Life organization has planted a commemorative grove of 400 trees at the Sherway Trail, adjacent to The Trillium Health Queensway Health Centre, in Etobicoke, Ont. The planting, completed in partnership with the Toronto Region and Conservation Authority, was supported by 100 volunteers and the trees were planted in honour of the hundreds of thousands of health workers in Ontario that support the community’s health and well-being.

At the event, the Barrett Family Foundation (BFF) announced a $1 million donation to Trees for Life to help grow Trees for Heroes projects across Canada. The Barrett Family Foundation was joined by Bob Barrett’s Toronto-based company Polytainers Inc. whose employees provided the bulk of the volunteer workforce for the day. Those volunteers joined forces with Trillium Health Partners employees, providing a unique opportunity to plant trees alongside some of the very same heroes being honoured.

“Protecting the environment and ecological sustainability is a core value of Barrett Family Foundation,” said Bob Barrett, chair of the Barrett Family Foundation. “Supporting Trees for Life is a meaningful and hands-on way of giving back and fulfilling this objective. The creation and charitable focus of BFF couldn’t have been achieved without the collective efforts of my Polytainers’ Team.”

Trees for Health is a coalition of passionate organizations partnering with health facilities, municipalities, and conservation authorities to plant trees to honour health workers across Canada, powered by the Canadian charity Trees for Life through its Trees for Heroes program.

“The support we get from organizations like the Barrett Family Foundation and Polytainers is the catalyst for all the good that we do at Trees for Life,” said Mark Cullen, president and co-founder of Trees for Life. “The links between increased tree canopy coverage, access to public green spaces and the combined mental and physical health benefits that come as a result are well documented. This is why it is extremely fitting to plant trees to honour those on the front line of healthcare. With this new pledge from the Barrett Family Foundation, we’ll be able to plant many more trees across Canada and honour many more heroes in the process.”

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Research shows that access to green spaces benefits our mental and physical health for both patients and health-care teams. Trees can help people have faster, smoother recovery with fewer post-surgery complications. Individuals gain greater restorative experience and lower stress levels with more frequent visits and time spent in green spaces. Research demonstrated that recuperating patients with a view of trees versus a brick wall experienced shorter stays, fewer analgesic doses two to five days after surgery, and fewer and less intense pain medications. In fact, time spent in and near green spaces benefits both patients and health workers.

My sincere appreciation to Trees for Life for organizing this Earth Day tree planting in Honor of frontline health workers at Trillium Health Partners,” said Dr. Anita Rao, anesthesiologist at Trillium Health Partners. “I am so touched by the dedication and recognition of the work we do in caring for our patients. A tree planting event is a special tribute because we know that spending time in nature is healing to both the mind and body. By honoring our front line clinicians by beautifying grounds near our hospitals, you are contributing to the wellness of our community and our patients.”

Trees for Life wants to help grow “Hero Forests” in communities across Canada to give more Canadians access to the amazing benefits of green spaces. They invite anyone from across Canada that has an idea for a location, or a group of heroes from the community that are deserving of a living tribute, to go to treesforlife.ca and get in touch.

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Featured image, from Left to right: Mike Hurley (TFL), Mark Cullen (TFL), Karli Farrow (THP), Francine Barrett (BFF), Bob Barrett (BFF), Susan Dalgleish (Polytainers Inc). Photo Credit: Trees for Life.

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