Toronto, Ontario

Roots of Empathy helps reduce aggression and bullying in school-aged children

Nominated by:

ERNEST C. MANNING AWARDS FOUNDATION

About the Innovation

Roots of Empathy was created as a means of reducing aggression and bullying among school-aged children. At the heart of the program are a parent and baby who visit a classroom over the course of a school year. A Roots of Empathy Instructor, using an accredited curriculum, coaches the 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 catalyst to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. Research from three continents confirms the impact of this unprecedented program and its success in fostering greater kindness, co-operation and sharing among students.

About the Innovator

Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996, she created the Roots of Empathy program in Ontario. Her not-for-profit organization offers programs in every province of Canada, and in New Zealand, the United States, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Costa Rica and Switzerland. In 2005, Ms. Gordon created the Seeds of Empathy program for 3-to-5-year-olds in child care. She is a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is Canada’s first Ashoka Fellow.

Mary Gordon

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