In ASD-W, family visits and spending time with a small child at school have helped students identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. The emotional literacy taught through the Roots of Empathy program lays the foundation for safer and more caring classrooms, and helps prevent bullying or insensitivity toward others in the school environment. Families who volunteer to participate with their infants live in the local community and commit to visiting the classroom every three weeks during the school year.
The Roots of Empathy program is delivered during regular school hours and is offered to elementary school children from kindergarten to Grade 8. In Canada, the program is delivered in rural, urban and indigenous communities and is also utilized in schools in other countries around the world.
Public Health Nurse Kim Greechan from the Horizon Health Network explained the overall goal of the program is to build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. The program is also promoted through the Healthy Learners in-school program.
On May 30, a "Baby Celebration" was held at the Military Family Resource Centre in Oromocto. Babies and parents who participated in the program this school year, instructors, teachers, and principals were in attendance as well as representation from local government, public health and education.