Babies are helping foster a more caring, peaceful society through the Roots of Empathy program. This award-winning program is teaching children from kindergarten to grade eight around the world about empathy and preparing them for the relationships they will encounter in their lives.
This Fall, thanks to a grant from the RBC Children’s Mental Health Project, children in Saskatchewan will get the opportunity to follow the Roots of Empathy program and gain valuable insights into personal relationships. Originally launched in Toronto in 1996 by educator Mary Gordon, Roots of Empathy has proven to decrease aggression and increase positive social behaviours such as sharing, helping and including others, at the elementary school level.
"In a Roots of Empathy classroom, children learn to identify and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings and those of others," said Mary Gordon, founder and president of Roots of Empathy. "The power of empathy in making our classrooms and communities more supportive of children's mental health is tremendous. It really can change the world, child by child."
During the program, a baby and its parents visit a classroom nine times and a specially trained facilitator visits 27 times over the school year. With the support of the instructor, the children observe the baby and its parents. They learn about the baby’s development, talk about its emotions, and witness the empathy that exists in the parent-baby relationship.
“Understanding how you feel and how others feel really helps children navigate every social relationship in their lives,” explains Gordon. “In society, we generally measure what we treasure. Traditionally schools have measured children’s competence in subject areas. Roots of Empathy measures the affective side of children’s knowledge, understanding, and attitudes.”
The RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues. Since 2009, the RBC Children’s Mental Health Project has been our cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar, and to date, we have donated more than $6.5 million to more than 125 organizations across Canada.
To learn more , visit Roots of Empathy