Roots of Empathy is a powerful community program dedicated to building caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children. It aims to reduce aggression and violence by helping children to see another person's point of view, think about others' feelings, and talk about and reflect on caring relationships.

Roots of Empathy accomplishes these goals by bringing together a classroom of young children and their teacher, a volunteer facilitator, a new baby, and the baby's parent(s). Over the course of the school year, visits by the baby and the baby's parent(s) provide a spring board for discussion, reflection, and learning. The children respond to "their" baby with empathy and caring, and these qualities are discussed and highlighted by the trained facilitator.

The values promoted by Roots of Empathy include emotional literacy, social inclusion, participatory democracy, health and safety, problem-solving, and developing a culture of caring. In terms of curriculum, this interactive and experiential program can be integrated into class projects in language arts, science, health, art, and music.

Roots of Empathy is a registered non-profit, charitable organization. The program, which began in two schools in Toronto in 1996, has grown tremendously in the past six years, and is now in over 140 schools in seven provinces. Now it's our turn to learn about how this innovative, volunteer-based, partnership program can make a difference in Nova Scotia!

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