Roots of Empathy babies and parents celebrated:

Program expanding thanks to renewed government commitment honours Vancouver participants from the last year

VANCOUVER, June 29, 2011 /CNW/ - A number of babies were fêted yesterday as "Vancouver's youngest teachers" at a Roots of Empathy baby celebration at the Museum of Vancouver.

Launched in British Columbia in 2000, Roots of Empathy - a classroom program that aims to change the world using a baby and parent as a model for empathy - is now widely acclaimed around the world.

The Honourable Christy Clark, premier of the Government of British Columbia, recently announced an expansion of the program starting in the 2011-12 school year as a way to support BC families and children. Both the Roots of Empathy program, and Seed of Empathy, its "younger sibling," will be co-funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Ministry of Education.

"We know that children learn so much at an early age," said Linda Reid, MLA for Richmond East, at the event. "Our government is very proud to support Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy. These fabulous programs are part of our promise to help children develop important values such as respect, kindness and empathy - values they will take with them through life."

"Schools in Vancouver have been involved with Roots of Empathy for over a decade and we have seen what a difference it makes," added Dr. Valerie Overgaard, Associate Superintendent for the Vancouver school district. "Research on the program shows that students exhibit less bullying and teachers say the climate in the classroom becomes more caring. We are thrilled to have the program in our schools for another year."

The Vancouver event featured babies wearing Roots of Empathy "Teacher" t-shirts. As well, Amanda Nahanee, Cultural Ambassador of the Squamish Nation and a descendent of the Squamish and Nisga'a Nations, welcomed guests warmly to the Territory.

Jessie Deacon, BC Provincial Manager, Roots of Empathy, says the program is making a difference. "To date we have reached more than 18,000 children in the city and 90,000 in British Columbia. We are so grateful to the Government of British Columbia and the Vancouver School Board for their ongoing support for our programs. This commitment to children's social and emotional development is an investment in a more caring, peaceful and civil society."

In 1996, Roots of Empathy began as a small Canadian pilot project bringing the power of empathy to children using the model of a baby and parent. Today the organization is widely acclaimed by international thought leaders (including His Holiness, the Dalai Lama). The program has reached 373,000 children worldwide. It has recently garnered unprecedented international media attention from The New York Times, The Guardian and CNN, among others, and has been featured in documentaries by the BBC and UK's ITV Television Network.

Photos from this event are available.

SOURCE Roots of Empathy

For further information:

For information or interviews contact:

Jessie Deacon
BC Provincial Manager, Roots of Empathy
604-713-5230 (office) / 604-551-4393 (mobile)

Robin Crombie
Manager, Media Relations, Roots of Empathy

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Roots of Empathy

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