Roots of Empathy Programme comes to the West


Roots of Empathy Programme comes to the West

The Western Trust in partnership with the Western Education and Library Board(WELB) is participating in the international Roots of Empathy programme. The initiative is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and was launched by its founder Mary Gordon on Monday 23 May in the ARC Healthy Living Centre, Irvinestown.


‘Roots of Empathy’ is an evidence-based classroom programme that has been shown to reduce levels of aggression among school children by raising social and emotional competence to increase empathy. Evaluation of the programme has demonstrated that participating children become more socially and emotionally aware and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.


Kieran Downey, Assistant Director in Women and Childrens Services at the Western Trust, chaired the successful launch and introduced a range of contributions that reflected the commitment from each and every partner organisation to this exciting pilot.


Debbie Hunter, programme coordinator for the Western Trust commented, “The Roots of Empathy programme supports the Western Trust ‘Infant Mental Health Strategy’ which highlights the need for investment and innovation in programmes for early years. Several primary schools in Omagh and Fermanagh have been selected to implement Roots of Empathy within the Western area; this will form part of a regional programme which is being evaluated by Queen’s University, Belfast.”


Mary Gordon, the organisation’s Founder and President, added, “We are proud to partner with Western Trust and WELB to expand the Roots of Empathy programme to Omagh and Fermanagh.  With the support of the Public Health Agency, we look forward to bringing the power of empathy to local classrooms and communities.”


“In the year-long Roots of Empathy programme, a parent and young baby visit a classroom nine times over the course of a school year. A trained Roots of Empathy instructor visits the class with the family to guide children as they observe the relationship between the baby and its parent. The instructor also visits before and after each session to reinforce the key messages from the programme”.