Beverly Butler, left, president of the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia, helped Stewiacke Mayor Wendy Robinson unveil a new bench installed at Dennis Park. The association donated the bench to help raise awareness of the value of personal interaction as a way of enhancing mental and physical health. Raissa Tetanish - Hub Now

STEWIACKE – The old saying ‘sit and chat a while’ is being revived.

The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) and the Town of Stewiacke joined forces to have a bench installed at Dennis Park.

APNS donated the bench to the town in memory of Senator William Dennis to help raise awareness of the value of personal interaction as a way to enhance mental and physical health. The bench was unveiled during Stewiacke’s annual Town Days celebration on Aug. 4, along with the official opening of the playground at Dennis Park.

Mayor Wendy Robinson, dressed in period attire from the early 1900s, gave a little bit of a history lesson during the unveiling.

“Senator William Dennis lived in Stewiacke as a very young man and never forgot us,” she said. “When he was travelling back and forth from Halifax to wherever on the train, he noticed this site.”

Robinson said there was a fire in 1923 that destroyed a mill and some houses, and seven years later, Dennis thought it a shame the property was still vacant.

“He offered the town $1,000 to help purchase the land and clean it up,” said Robinson, adding the town mowed the area for a while and then stopped. “There was a time the park was not used, but Senator Dennis, when he gave the money, had insisted on a couple of things and one of the conditions was that there was always a place where an old man could sit and rest in the shade of a tree.

“With this appropriate donation from APNS, people will be able to sit and chat face-to-face as he wanted. I am sure it will be well appreciated by those who take the time in this fast paced world.”

According to APNS, parks in towns throughout Nova Scotia are the perfect setting to enjoy the natural environment and where it is easy to engage with other people, to chat with neighbours, and get to know other members of the community. This, of course, is good for one’s mental health and psychological well-being.

“Research shows many psychological and cognitive benefits to face-to-face interactions, including reduced risk of depression and anxiety, improvements in social skills and empathy, and strengthened mental and memory functioning,” said APNS president Dr. Beverly Butler.

APNS hopes this idea will be taken up by other towns in Nova Scotia. In this busy world everyone deserves a little time out to have a nice chat.

Photos from Town Days can be found online here.