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Western Trust celebrate their youngest teachers in Broadbridge Primary school


Roots of Empathy at Broadbridge Primary School

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based primary school programme effective in increasing children’s positive behaviour and reducing difficult behaviour. The programme is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and coordinated by local health trusts in partnership with the Education Authority.

Over 4,000 children across 52 primary schools in the Western Trust area have taken part in the last eleven years.

At the heart of the programme is a local baby and volunteer parent, who visit the classroom on a monthly basis. The programme is delivered by a trained instructor who coaches the pupils to observe the baby’s development and label the baby’s feelings and reactions. Pupils learn the names for the baby’s feelings and from this experiential learning they discover their own feelings and discover the feelings of others. This is empathy. By experiencing and feeling empathy, pupils are less likely to physically, psychologically and emotionally hurt each other through bullying.

The Western Trust would like to acknowledge the commitment of local primary schools in the delivery of the Roots of Empathy programme this year providing support to our children by helping them build empathy and navigate relationships.

Speaking at the baby celebration in Broadbridge PS, Daniel McLaughlin, Principal said:

“The Roots of Empathy programme has had such a positive influence within our school that we decided to have three of our staff including, Katrina Gillespie, Tracey Lynch and Paula Quinn, trained to become instructors to deliver the programme. The staff involved have been very enthusiastic about this programme, as have the children who have been participating.”

Katrina Gillespie, Instructor said:

“The ROE program allows our children to develop a vocabulary of feelings. The discussion around the literature gives them opportunities to reflect on the emotions of others and how this affects their own emotions. Love grows brains.”

Roots of Empathy Broadbridge Primary SchoolClaire Hamilton, Health Improvement, Equality Involvement Department, Western Trust, who coordinates the programme said:

“It is a beautiful heart felt programme where children use observation, discussion, art and music to connect to and express how they are feeling. The vision of Roots of Empathy is ‘Changing the world, child by child’ and it is a wonderful programme to be involved with.”

Seamus Ward, Head of Health Improvement, Equality Involvement Department, Western Trust said:

“The Roots of Empathy programme showcases the Western Trust’s commitment to supporting the early years agenda and is an example of investment and innovation in health and wellbeing programmes for early years.”

If you would like more information on the programme and upcoming training please contact Claire Hamilton, Health Improvement, Equality Involvement Department on T: (028) 7186 5127.