It’s called “Roots of Empathy” and the program’s mission is to ‘build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults’ and with this special program, they’ve made an impact in their first four years, owing their success to local babies.
This year, about 250 students in Moose Jaw participated in the program where young babies and their families visited once a month and then through trained instructors who facilitated lessons around empathy, feelings, vocabulary, and communication, the students explored relationships and connection.
Dacey Richardson, a local facilitator here in Moose Jaw, described the process, “They’re (the students) being guided to learn things like how to understand body language. We talk a lot about feelings and putting language around it and one of the things we see every year is that they see this baby and the baby is fussing but the baby doesn’t have any words. They start to be little detectives at the younger age groups, to see ‘What would that facial expression mean?’, ‘How do you know that he might be feeling sad? Why do you say that? What is his body telling you?’ And then the instructors start to guide them into understanding how they can relay that to their peers and to themselves, and to relating to those around them.”
She said that the students really respond positively to the visits, and observing the interaction of the parents with the baby. So much so, that there is a feeling of connection to what Richardson calls “their baby” and it is cause for excitement in the classroom when students report back that they bumped into the family out in the community.