Roots of Empathy programme for Acorn pupils

Pictured at Acorn are Graham and Adele O'Beirne with baby Adam and instructor Emma Middleton.  INCT 23-726-CON
Pictured at Acorn are Graham and Adele O'Beirne with baby Adam and instructor Emma Middleton. INCT 23-726-CON

Pupils from Acorn Integrated Primary School in Carrick have taken part in a programme shown to increase levels of empathy amongst schoolchildren.

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 Improvement Service and is funded by the Public Health Agency.

The innovative scheme 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.

Emma McElhone, programme co-ordinator with the Northern Trust explained, “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.”