CHILDREN AS CHANGERS

This website showcases art and stories by children who have participated in the Roots of Empathy program. The Roots of Empathy organization deeply believes in children as levers of change in the world. We see classrooms as places where every child has the right to belong and to have a voice. Children in the Roots of Empathy program are empowered to know that they can do something to change an unfair situation, such as bullying, exclusion or violence. They create participatory democracies in the classroom and readily develop the capacity to understand how others feel, and to feel with them (empathy).

At the heart of the Roots of Empathy program are a neighbourhood infant and parent who visit the classroom every three weeks over the school year. A trained Roots of Empathy Instructor coaches students to observe the baby's development and to label the baby's feelings. In this experiential learning, the baby is the "Teacher" and a lever, which the instructor uses to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. This "emotional literacy" taught in the program lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms, where children are the "Changers".

As important as it is to develop empathy in childhood, it is equally important to develop a sense of moral courage. The hope for reversing the tide of violence in the world rests on the breath of our children. Given the opportunity to develop their empathic capacity to consider and practice moral courage, children learn to find the humanity in others. Through them we can imagine a world where our differences don’t divide us or cause conflict, but rather our shared humanity connects us and helps us to support one another.

All children can be changers.