A wonderful group of local babies and their families from the Derry/Londonderry Strabane and Limavady areas were congratulated recently for their contribution to teaching the internationally recognised “Roots of Empathy” (ROE) classroom programme to children from local schools.
The programme is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) as part of their commitment to give every child “the best start in life” and is coordinated and led by the Western Trust Health Improvement Department in partnership with the Education Authority.
Across the Western Trust there have been a total of 139 ROE programmes since ROE started in 2011/12 in 49 schools. Over 3,400 (3403) students have taken part. During 2018/19 there are 314 children participating in this acclaimed programme.
Roots of Empathy centres on a baby visiting the classroom with his parent throughout a school year. The class follow the baby’s milestones and development over the year during which a trained instructor coaches pupils to observe the connected relationship between the baby and parent. The pupils learn and understand empathy from this process as they reflect on their own feelings and those of others. This ‘emotional literacy’ lays the foundations for more safe and caring classrooms as it enables pupils to become more socially and emotionally aware and therefore then more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.