A very special celebration event has taken place for 28 ‘tiny teachers’ and their parents who took part in the Roots of Empathy programme for primary schools in the Southern Area.
Founded in Canada in 1996, Roots of Empathy has reached more than a million children worldwide, promoting social and emotional understanding.
During the 27 week classroom based programme the specially trained instructor guides the children to observe, share and celebrate the development of ‘their’ baby.
Children who take part in the programme experience dramatic and lasting effects in terms of increased positive social behaviour like sharing, helping and including and a decrease in aggression.
Twenty-three schools took part in the Roots of Empathy Programme this year, including Bridge Integrated Primary School, Banbridge, where tiny teachers baby James Topping and baby Joe McGarry took part.
One mum who participated in the programme commented: “Roots of Empathy has been brilliant in the way it highlighted each special stage of my daughter’s development.
“With my other children I was inclined to worry about how soon they could do things but this taught us to savour every minute.
“We are delighted that we have been able to be part of this programme. The photographs have captured the whole experience and the wishes are so special.”
Gerard Rocks, Acting Head of Health Improvement in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust says: “This programme is a great example of how early intervention can help young people to better cope with their emotions and learn how to build positive, healthy relationships in preparation for the challenges they may face in adulthood.
“We would like to thank all of the families for taking part by sharing the very precious first year of their babies’ lives and contributing to creating much more positive and caring communities in the long term.”
The Roots of Empathy Programme is funded by the Public Health Agency as part of their commitment to give every child the best possible start in life and is led by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with the Education Authority, Southern Region as part of the school curriculum.
The Founder and President of Roots of Empathy said: “Education is the most effective peace-building institution in the land. Our schools serve as our Ministry of Peace.”
For more information on Roots of Empathy, including how to become a volunteer instructor in your local primary school, contact Maureen McSorley, Senior Health Promotion Officer on 028 3741 2763, email:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rootsofempathy.org