Mary Gordon, Founder and President, Roots of Empathy
Roots of Empathy
HundrED shortlisted this innovation
Why did you create this innovation?
Realizing that we live in an emotionally illiterate world with an inability to connect to ourselves and others, I wanted to break this cycle. Emotions are our first language, a universal language and the connective tissue of human kind. Recognizing emotional literacy as the affective side of empathy, I wanted to reduce conflict, hatred and alienation by supporting children's emotional fluency.
How does your innovation work in practice?
The Roots of Empathy (ROE) organization delivers two empathy based programs in multiple languages on 4 continents, Seeds of Empathy for 3-5 year old children and Roots of Empathy for 4-11 year old children. Independent research has proven ROE to reduce aggression including bullying and increase affective empathy. Children are coached to recognize and connect with the vulnerability and humanity of a baby who visits their classroom throughout the school year with their parent(s), along with a trained Instructor using a specialized proprietary curriculum available in print and electronically. Through the experiential learning children are coached to label the baby’s feelings and intentions, learning the affective aspect of empathy – emotion – and the cognitive aspect of empathy - perspective-taking. Emotional literacy develops as children begin to identify and label the baby’s feelings, reflect on and understand their own feelings, then bridge to understand the feelings of others.
How has it been spreading?
The Roots of Empathy organization has much to be proud of and to celebrate. When faced with changes in education caused by the global pandemic, we were able to provide our empathy based programs, Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy to children in classrooms and childcare centres, virtually on screens. In response to the changing situation of education, we created the curriculum for the Roots of Empathy Recovery Program which was launched in 2020 and we were able to adapt our Seeds of Empathy program and welcomed our volunteer parents and babies into centres virtually.
Building on the success of our organizations ability to innovate and adapt we are excited to offer additional program options and a new hybrid Instructor Training to scale farther and faster, reaching more children.
If I want to try it, what should I do?
To reach new populations, Roots of Empathy works with communities and schools to introduce the program into a region. For more information, please contact Brenda McCormack, at email@example.com