Roots of Empathy


Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that has shown significant effect in reducing levels of aggression among schoolchildren by raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

Here on Cortes, the Roots of Empathy program reaches students from Kindergarten to Grade 2 at Cortes Island School. At the heart of this year’s program is island baby Finnleigh who visits the classroom every three weeks over the school year with her mama Jenny. Our trained Roots of Empathy Instructor, Odette Auger,  coaches students to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. In this experiential learning, the baby is the “Teacher”, helping the children to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others. This “emotional literacy” lays the foundation for more safe and caring classrooms.

Research results from national and international evaluations of Roots of Empathy indicate significant reductions in aggression and increases in pro-social behaviour. Launched in 1999, the Roots of Empathy program in British Columbia has engaged nearly 90,000 children. After completing the Roots of Empathy program, 89% of British Columbia students reported understanding how other people feel.

For more info about the program, visit