My name is Krista!
I wanted to take some time to express my thoughts on and feelings for a wonderful program: Roots of Empathy. Roots of Empathy (ROE) is a classroom based program that reduces aggression among children and gives them the ability to recognize and accept their emotions while increasing their ability to feel empathy for others. The mission for Roots of Empathy ‘is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.’ The program was developed in 1996 by founder, Mary Gordon in Toronto, Ontario and has reached over 500,000 children worldwide! It is now an international program and is delivered to students in kindergarten-grade 8 in the United States (Seattle, Washington), New Zealand, the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and of course Canada.
This past school year, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with a beautiful family and share in something so precious…their daughters first year of life. The ROE program matches and instructor (myself) with a local family who has recently had a baby (Misty’s family) and school in the area. Over the course of 27 classroom visits by myself and 9 family visits from Misty, the class gets the opportunity to watch an infant grow through the first months of their life and learn to aware of how others feel. Misty’s sweet little B was our classroom ROE ‘Teacher,’ and boy did we get lucky!
Baby B is just too cute for words and she has changed so much since we first met her in September. I am often working in the school, where I ran the program this year, and the student’s ask about B every time they see me in the hallways. They want to know what is new with her? Has she changed at all? Is she able to sit, talk, eat, and walk yet? Sometimes they ask questions that are out in left field (Misty can attest to this)… but it’s just a joy to see their interest and thought process! Some students have never gotten to, or may never get to experience having a little sibling/baby in their lives so this program allowed them to learn how to protect babies from danger and how to read their emotions and ensure they get what they need. The students have benefited so greatly from Misty and B’s visits! Not only did we discuss development of infants, but we also talked a great deal about identifying our own and others feelings in the ROE program. B was an excellent ‘teacher’ in the classroom as she shared her own expressions with the students throughout her visits (crying, frowning, smiling, starting, questioning and laughing to name a few).
Misty is an amazing woman and on top of that… an incredible mom! I have enjoyed watching the interactions between her and Baby B during our classroom visits, they are so natural, so rhythmic in nature. It really is something so precious to see a bond between mom and baby grow stronger and stronger over time. The class that we have been working with since September is so blessed to have such a great example of love and attachment between family members and baby B. ROE encourages and accepts all family members to come for the family visits to the classroom; it gives the students a chance to see how bonds are not just with mom…but can be with all members of a family. Baby B’s grandmother, and great-grandmother both came for some of the visits throughout our program and it was really wonderful to see how much joy they took in little B! The love for B is undeniable from her family, and how lucky she is to grow up surrounded by so much love!
Roots of Empathy has been a very positive experience for the students and myself and I have been fortunate enough to get to know Misty and B throughout the program. I look forward to following B as she grows up and hope to check in with visits as she continues to share what she has to offer this world!
For more information about the program or if you are interested in getting involved please visit: http://www.rootsofempathy.org/en.html
Krista Berry, OCT, RECE
B.Ed., B.A.H Sociology, Family and Child Studies