Roots of Empathy’s mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies
through the development of empathy in children and adults.
Back in October, we posted on our facebook page about the Roots of Empathy program. I was very fortunate to participate in the program last year, with my (then) new baby and wanted to share my experience of such a great program, as I don’t think enough people know about it!
Mary Gordon, President of Roots of Empathy, started the program in 1996. Basically, a neighborhood baby and parent visit a classroom and “teach” the kids about the baby, it’s actions and emotions, thereby helping them develop empathy for the child, and ultimately, others. A trained Roots of Empathy instructor accompanies the parent in the classroom and guides the children to focus on different themes – including “why does a baby cry?” “what are a baby’s needs?” and so forth. The baby becomes the teacher and is a catalyst for helping the children to identify and reflect on their own feelings and those of others.
According to the Roots of Empathy website, British Columbia was one of the first provinces in Canada to offer the program. In 2000, it began in ten classrooms in Vancouver, and to date, the program has reached nearly 90,000 BC children with the participation of about 3,600 babies. Best of all, the program has shown that it’s had a significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among schoolchildren while raising awareness and empathy for others.
I found out about the Roots of Empathy program in 2008, when a friend of mine was involved in the program at a local school with her baby. By that time, my daughter, Hayley, was already 8 months old and the school-year was half over, but I vowed to remember this program and participate in the future, when I had another baby.
Read moreEstablishing Roots in our Neighborhood School