On a sunny Friday mid-afternoon, a dozen babies mingle with grown-ups at the False Creek Community Centre to celebrate a successful year of Roots of Empathy, an innovative worldwide Social Emotional Learning program.
This year the Vancouver School District hosted 38 programs in 28 elementary schools. Each participating class received scheduled visits from a Roots of Empathy instructor and a parent and baby duo. From observing the parent child attachment and the babies' growth and development over the course of a school year, students inevitably fall in love with their tiny teacher. The attachment and the empathy the students feel for "their" baby, as well as learning how babies socialize help students foster emotional literacy.
Vice Principal of Indigenous Education, Chas Dejarlais kicks off the celebration with drumming "Gathering Strength Song" for the babies, taught to her by Elder Gerry Oleman. The song calls for strength in our life journey as well as strength in babies' legs for crawling!
Among the many speakers is Jody Langlois, Associate Superintendent, who has worked with Roots of Empathy across 3 school districts and knows first-hand how responsive the children are to the program. She talks about how Social and Emotional Learning is a key competency of BC's new curriculum and thanks the members of Roots of Empathy for all their hard work to help foster empathy and Social and Emotional Learning in our students' lives.