The Northern Trust and Roots of Empathy recently held a celebration to acknowledge and thank their 21 unique “baby teachers”, as well as their parents, who made the Roots of Empathy programmes possible in each of the participating schools, including Cookstown Primary School.
All of the Roots of Empathy families were thanked for sharing the very precious first year of their baby’s development with students, and celebrated the incredible contribution they have made to the lives of the students, as well as the schools.
Overall, the celebration helped to honour how these programmes continue to contribute to more positive parenting and caring communities.
The internationally recognised Roots of Empathy programme was implemented by the Northern Trust in September 2011. This programme targets primary schools, and is co-ordinated and led by the Northern Trust Health & Well Being Team and is funded by the PHA (Public Health Agency).
The programme’s innovative structure brings an infant and parent into a local classroom once a month throughout the school year. Students spend the year tracking the infant’s milestones, and they are encouraged to observe the close relationship between the baby and parent. Through the infant, children learn to identify and reflect on their own feelings, as well as the feelings of others. This helps them to become more socially and emotionally aware, and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.
As described by Emma McElhone, programme co-ordinator with the Trust, “The programme is designed to equip pupils with the skills required to build healthy relationships and, as part of early intervention work, enables pupils to carry these skills into adulthood.”