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Roots of Empathy's mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.
Roots of Empathy (ROE) is a school-based prevention program that develops children's social emotional skills, promotes empathy, and reduces bullying. Using an evidence-based social-emotional learning curriculum designed to teach social skills and promote caring behavior, Roots of Empathy provides a unique component: a neighborhood infant and parent who visit the same classroom every three weeks over the school year. A trained volunteer ROE instructor (who is not the classroom teacher) coaches students to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. In this simple and deeply experiential model, the baby is the "teacher" and a lever that the Instructor uses to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others (empathy.)
The focus of Roots of Empathy in the long term is to build the capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting. In the short term the focus is on raising levels of empathy and social and emotional awareness, resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reduced levels of bullying and aggression in the classroom and throughout the school. Roots of Empathy models and teaches respect for each baby's needs, temperament, and family culture, which transfers to embrace the needs, temperaments, and family cultures of every individual at the school.
Through the experiential family visits with the baby, Roots of Empathy elevates the role of neighborhood families at school and teaches students about the crucial importance of a loving attachment for the healthy development of every baby.
- Ilene Fortune
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