|Reports & Publications - Annual Report 2006
Roots of Empathy Program - a step in the right direction for local schools
Local schools are taking part in an important program that will have an impact on our children that can last a lifetime. The program, called “Roots of Empathy”, brings a neighbourhood infant and parent into a classroom every three weeks over the school year. With a certified Roots of Empathy Instructor, students are coached to observe the baby's development, celebrate milestones, interact with the baby and learn about an infant's needs and unique temperament.
The focus of Roots of Empathy in the long term is to build capacity of the next generation for caring and compassionate citizenship and parenting.
What is unique about Roots of Empathy is that it does not target bullies or aggressive children; it does not target a narrow spectrum of ages. It takes a universal approach, raising the level of empathy in the entire classroom and across age groups without singling out any individual or group.
The Health Unit is proud to have had a role in the establishment of the “Roots of Empathy” program in this community.
As the children follow the development of "their" Roots of Empathy baby, they learn new skills to last a lifetime. They learn to label and talk about feelings as well as what babies see from their perspective. They also learn that there is no unimportant moment in a child's life and gain insights into the huge demands and the responsibility of caring for a baby. Students delight in being able to predict how their baby will respond to new experiences, based on their understanding of the baby's temperament. As students observe the growth of the bond between infant and parent over the course of the school year, they are witnessing the most influential relationship in the life span. In some cases, fathers participate and share their perspective on parenting. Of course infant development and safety are seen in this. One of the main lessons in this program is that when children are able to understand another's point of view and respect their feelings, aggressive behaviour is less likely to occur.
For more information on the “Roots of Empathy” program. Check out this link: http://www.rootsofempathy.org/index.html
The focus of Roots of Empathy in the long term is to build capacity of the next
generation for caring and compassionate citizenship and parenting.