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Roots of Empathy in Moose Jaw: Back to school season!

The latest column from the Partners Against Violence committee
RE Kayla
One of the "teachers" from last year. File photo.

Moose Jaw’s Partners against Violence Committee brings together a number of local service agencies, as well as local RCMP and Moose Jaw Police to work towards building a safer community for all.

Roots of Empathy in Moose Jaw: Back to School Season!

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Fall is in full swing and the bustling “Back to School” season is settling into normal routines again. Since the fall of 2013, Instructors in our community have also packed bags getting ready to return to school, but instead of paper and pencils, these Instructors pack a large green blanket, colorful picture books, brightly colored baby toys and a sweet-faced baby doll. These are no ordinary Instructors; they are also joined by a newborn baby and parent in the classroom! Since October 2013, 32 infants have accompanied Roots of Empathy Instructors to meet with 772 elementary aged children in their classrooms throughout the city of Moose Jaw. Through the Roots of Empathy program elementary aged children across our city have grown in their ability to feel empathy for one another and treat each other with respect.

This program is a truly unique approach to the prevention of bullying because it is delivered in partnership with a baby and their parent(s) who visit the classroom every month for one school year. Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based program that has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression and violence among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. As the children follow the development of "their" baby, they develop new awareness and skills to last a lifetime including: Emotional Literacy, Neuroscience, Temperament, Inclusion, Infant Safety & Development, Perspective Taking, Attachment / Attunement, Participatory Democracy and Violence Prevention. 

Roots of Empathy is offered in every province in Canada as well as on three continents around the world.  It came to Saskatchewan in 2011 and Moose Jaw was the first city in Southern SK to adopt the program through strong local partnerships including the Partners Against Violence committee, Holy Trinity Catholic Schools, Prairie South School Division, Hillcrest Church and many others. Since opening in Moose Jaw, 31 programs have been delivered locally in 11 different schools, with over 770 students benefiting from the program. Both the Holy Trinity Catholic School and Prairie South School Divisions have participated in hosting the program as well as training Instructors to deliver Roots of Empathy. 

Classroom teachers, students and parents who have participated in the program agree that this is a wonderful way to help our students grow in their ability to recognize the humanity in each other and respond with compassion and empathy. This investment in our children and youth will last for years to come.

Learn more about Roots of Empathy at www.rootsofempathy.org