Edmonton infants honoured as volunteer teachers in unique pre-school program

    EDMONTON, June 16 /CNW/ - A group of Edmonton infants from Seeds of
Empathy, an innovative children's program, are being celebrated tomorrow for
their contribution to teaching. Seeds of Empathy, which is funded by the
Alberta Ministry Employment and Immigration, is designed for early childhood
settings to foster social and emotional competence and early literacy skills
and attitudes in children three to five years of age while providing
professional development for their educators. The celebration marks the end of
the second year of a three-year pilot that will see the program delivered to
65 early childhood centres across the province. Alberta is one of the first
provinces to launch the program.
    The launch of a new children's board book, Faces of Tomorrow in support
of Seeds of Empathy will coincide with the baby celebration. Mary Gordon,
educator, best-selling author and creator of Seeds of Empathy will present the
book and its dedication to the Honourable Iris Evans, Minister of Finance and
Enterprise, in recognition of her informed leadership and unfailing support in
improving the circumstances of Alberta children.
    The book will be gifted to volunteer families involved with the program.
It will also be placed in the Seeds of Empathy centres in support of the early
literacy development of immigrant children, which is one of the key aims of
the program along with fostering social and emotional skills.
    "We begin with love," Mary Gordon states in the book, "Love is the cement
of the future that connects us all in a universal chain of possibility. The
birth of each baby is the birth of hope. Through loving parenting babies
develop empathy. This ability to understand how others feel is prerequisite
for conflict resolution, altruism, and a peaceful tomorrow."
    Seeds of Empathy grew out of its parent program Roots of Empathy, which
is based on the same concept and teaching method. Alberta has brought Roots of
Empathy to over 42,000 school children since 2002.
    See attached backgrounder for more information on Seeds of Empathy or
visit www.seedsofempathy.org.

    Seeds of Empathy

    What are the goals of the Seeds of Empathy program?

    The goals of the program are to:
    -   Foster the development of empathy in preschool children
    -   Increase understanding of others and reduce aggression
    -   Help children to understand their own feelings and the feeling of
    -   Promote a love of reading and early literacy skills such as the
        conventions of print and understanding picture cues and word patterns

    How were the centres selected to deliver the Seeds of Empathy program?

    The centres were required to have:
    -   A stable group of staff in an established centre
    -   A consistent group of children age three to five attending the centre
        on an ongoing basis
    -   Ability to make a long term commitment to the program
    -   Children with diverse backgrounds

    How are the babies and parents selected for the program?

    When daycare staff select the parent and baby they consider the
    -   the family reflects the community served by the daycare centre. For
        example, daycare staff may consider characteristics such as
    -   The ability of the parent and baby to make a long term commitment to
        be available for ten classes over a 30 week period
    -   The age of the baby (must be 2-4 months old at the start of the

    Why is Seeds of Empathy being implemented in Alberta?

    The program supports Alberta's initiatives to:
    -   create welcoming communities as the province's population becomes
        more diverse
    -   reduce bullying and aggression and promote early literacy skills

    What Supports are provided to the daycare centres to deliver the program?

    Supports available to the centre include:
    -   Costs to cover workshops to train the staff in the centres to prepare
        for and deliver the program
    -   Books and supplies needed to run the program
    -   Ongoing program support for staff - mentoring and professional
        development workshops

    Seeds of Empathy at a glance

    -   The program has been delivered to 39 different early childhood
        centres province-wide
    -   To date, 51 "teachers" have taught over 800 pre-school children
    -   Next year 26 additional early childhood centres will be trained to
        implement the Seeds of Empathy program
    -   In addition, 65 "teachers" will be recruited to teacher another 1000
        pre-school children.

For further information:

For further information: Media enquiries may be directed to: Carolyn
Parkes, Alberta Provincial Manager, Seeds of Empathy, Tel. (780) 862-6833;
Stefanie Di Risio, Director of Communications, Seeds of Empathy, Tel.: (416)

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