Roots of Empathy Classroom Programme - Celebration Event
Caption: Left to right - Deborah Hunter Western Trust, Ruth Bell WELB, Gillian Moore ROE Instructor, Shirley with baby Emily and John McCrea Principal, Ballinamallard PS
A group of local babies were congratulated recently for their contribution to teaching the internationally-recognised evidence-based Roots of Empathy classroom programme.
The Roots of Empathy programme has been running with five local primary schools in the Omagh and Fermanagh areas since September 2011.
The programme targets year 5 pupils and is coordinated and led by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) Health Improvement Department in partnership with the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) and Action for children. The project is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA).
The Roots of Empathy programme has been shown to reduce levels of aggression among school children by raising social and emotional competence to increase empathy. The programme centres on a baby visiting the classroom with its parent throughout a school year, where the class follow the baby’s milestones and development over the year. The pupils are encourage to observe the relationship between the baby and parent to help understand, and name their feelings. This helps participants to be more socially and emotionally aware and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.
Debbie Hunter, programme coordinator for the Western Trust commented: “The Roots of Empathy programme equips the participants with the skills required to build healthy relationships. Today’s event has been especially organised to thank the babies who along with their parents, have been teaching local children important lessons about expressing feelings, respect, inclusion, infant development and safety, and the power of a loving bond between parent and child.”
Ruth Bell, WELB Assistant Senior Education Officer, Children and Young People's Services, relayed a special thanks to all involved: “The success of the Roots of Empathy programme lies within the local school community and WELB would like to thank the ROE instructors, parents, pupils and babies who have brought the programme to life. I would also like to show appreciation to the participating schools and commend the principals and Year 5 teachers who have all contributed to the success of the programme this year.”