Pupils learn empathy lessons

Participants in the Roots of Empathy programme at Acorn Integrated Primary pictured at the celebration and thank-you event held by Northern Trust.
Participants in the Roots of Empathy programme at Acorn Integrated Primary pictured at the celebration and thank-you event held by Northern Trust.

Pupils from a number of schools in East Antrim have have taken part in a programme shown to reduce levels of aggression amongst schoolchildren.

Acorn Integrated Primary School (Carrickfergus), Oakfield Primary School (Carrickfergus), Sunnylands Primary School (Carrickfergus), Kings Park Primary School (Newtownabbey) and Moyle Primary School (Larne) all took part recently in the ‘Roots of Empathy’ scheme.

Participants in the Roots of Empathy programme at Sunnylands Primary School - Debbie McKeown and Harrison pictured with  Caroline Peden (back) and  Laura McConkey.

Participants in the Roots of Empathy programme at Sunnylands Primary School - Debbie McKeown and Harrison pictured with Caroline Peden (back) and Laura McConkey.

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom programme that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression and bullying among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

The innovative scheme involves bringing an infant and parent into a classroom once a month throughout the school year giving students the opportunity to track the infant’s milestones.

The pupils are encouraged to observe the close relationship between the baby and parent.

Through the baby, the children learn to identify and reflect on their own feelings as well as the feelings of others. This aims to help pupils to become more socially and emotionally aware and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.

Selena Ramsey, Instructor, Northern Trust, presents a certificate to Norma Johnston from Moyle Primary School for five years commitment to the Roots of Empathy Programme

Selena Ramsey, Instructor, Northern Trust, presents a certificate to Norma Johnston from Moyle Primary School for five years commitment to the Roots of Empathy Programme

The internationally recognised Roots of Empathy programme was implemented by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in September 2011.

The programme targets primary schools and is co-ordinated and led by the Northern Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team and is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Speaking about ‘Roots of Empathy’, Jayne Colville, Child Development Interventions Co-ordinator with the Northern Trust, said: “The programme is designed to help equip pupils with the skills required to build healthy relationships and carry these skills into adulthood.

“Recently, a celebration event was held by the Northern Trust to thank the families involved for sharing the very precious first year of their baby’s development and to acknowledge the incredible contribution they have made to the lives of the students, as well as the schools. We were also delighted to award one of our Instructors, for five year’s commitment to the Roots of Empathy Programme. Overall, the celebration event helped to honour how these programmes continue to contribute to more positive parenting and caring communities for all.”

Elma and Isaac who supported the Northern Trusts Roots of Empathy Programme in Kings Park Primary School.

Elma and Isaac who supported the Northern Trusts Roots of Empathy Programme in Kings Park Primary School.

Anyone who would like to find out more about Roots of Empathy can contact Northern Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team on 2563 6600 or visit www.rootsofempathy.org.

Some of those who attended a recent event to celebrate the Northern Trust's Roots of Empathy Programme.

Some of those who attended a recent event to celebrate the Northern Trust's Roots of Empathy Programme.