Roots of Em­pa­thy in Moose Jaw: What’s on Your Back to School List?

Moose Jaw Express.com - - NEWS -

As fall ap­proaches and the “Back to School” sea­son be­gins, back­packs are filled with an ar­ray of sup­plies for the year. 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 in the class­room! Since Oc­to­ber 2013, twenty eight in­fants have ac­com­pa­nied Roots of Em­pa­thy In­struc­tors to meet with 700 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, both school di­vi­sions, Hill­crest Church and many oth­ers. Since open­ing in Moose Jaw, 27 pro­grams have been de­liv­ered lo­cally in 11 dif­fer­ent schools, with over 700 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.

In the spring of 2017, the per­tus­sis (whoop­ing cough) out­break in Moose Jaw pre­vented our pro­grams from re­turn­ing to school be­cause of risks to our in­fant “teach­ers.” Once the out­break clears we hope to re­sume pro­grams as usual and con­tinue to change to the world, child by child. We are cur­rently re­cruit­ing fam­i­lies with ba­bies who were born in June, July or Au­gust 2018 to part­ner with us in the class­room this fall and im­pact the chil­dren of Moose Jaw!

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

Daycee Richard­son is the Com­mu­nity Ad­vo­cate at Hill­crest Church and the lo­cal Key Point Per­son for Roots of Em­pa­thy. She can be reached at daycee@hill­crestmj. com

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