Smoky River Family and Community Support Services – In Focus

Georgia Dubois
Smoky River FCSS

Roots of Empathy Program, Part I

Empathy-the ability to relate to how someone else is feeling-is at the core of our humanity.

The absence of empathy underlies abuse, bullying, and marginalization in all forms. The development of this trait in children is at the center of the Roots of Empathy Program being offered in the 2015-2016 school year at Routhier School in Falher as well at the Providence School in McLennan.

Roots of Empathy is a Canadian program that was created in 1996 by Mary Gordon. The aim of the program: to change our world, one child at a time. At the heart of the program are classroom visits by a very special teacher: a baby! Through guided observations of this baby, children learn to identify and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings and those of others.

The program is designed for Kindergarten all the way to Grade 8 and involves nine themes each consisting of three units. In each theme there is a pre-family visit, family visit and a post-family visit. It is during the family visit that baby visits the classroom and the children are then able to connect with the infant and learn how to tell how the baby is feeling based on the cues that baby is giving.

Schools that support the Roots of Empathy program experience dramatic and lasting effects in terms of increased positive social behavior (sharing, helping and including) and decreased aggression.

Roots of Empathy has been recognized by the Dalai Lama and the World Health Organization, among others. The organization works in partnership with Indigenous people globally, and has been endorsed in Canada by National Chief Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo (and former Chief Phil Fontaine) of the Assembly of First Nations. The program has also won an international Changemakers award from the Ashoka organization.

If you would like to become a Roots of Empathy Instructor for the 2016-2017 school year, please contact Georgia Dubois at (780) 837-2220 for an interview.

Please check out the Roots of Empathy website at
Making a difference one child at a time.

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