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Roots of Empathy

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Roots of Empathy

Sara General

Roots of Empathy.jpg

It has been quite some time since I made an education post and I have two coming up that I want to share. The first is something that I am very excited for – my daughter Ione and I are participating in the Roots of Empathy program! Today is our first day. The school that is hosting us is called J.C. Hill school. It is the school where both of my older siblings went and it is the school where my brother-in-law teaches.

For those of you who don’t know how Roots of Empathy works, there is a great website here that provides more information.

Why are we doing this, you might ask? The biggest reason is that I love my daughter very much and babies have such strong spirits and wisdom to share with us. She loves people and I can already tell that she is excited to participate. But another reason is that I love our schools and our communities. I care about what happens to the kids in our schools and I know that some of the kids in our schools suffer from bullying. Yes, kids in our own communities are suffering from bullying and I don’t think that’s okay. Sometimes though, (and people might get mad at me for saying this) – kids don’t have an awesome support system at home. Maybe their parents are hurting, or have been bullied or bully themselves. Maybe their parents or guardians are working really hard and don’t have time to teach their kids how to treat each other, or maybe parents don’t even realize that there’s a problem. Or -  maybe their home situations are awesome but they are still having these experiences. There could be a myriad of reasons. I won't pretend that I know why things are the way they are. I definitely don’t. But even though I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, I also don’t want to pretend that this isn’t an issue.

I suppose my point is – no matter what the situation is, kids sometimes need help understanding how to have healthy, safe relationships and to treat one another with respect and kindness. This program allows kids to have a conversation about empathy and to reflect on how to have empathy for one another. I think that’s an important quality that I want my baby and other kids in our community to know. Empathy and time. It’s something we need as much (and more really) than anything else. Certainly more than designer clothes, iPads, iPods, iPhones, ATVs, or manicures and definitely as much as we need food, water and shelter.

I am also really excited to participate in the program because I know our schools have their challenges. I’m not talking about EQAO test scores here either – I mean basic, ‘this is how we treat and support one another as a community’ kinds of challenges. And because the settler colonial narrative is still saturating every element of our existence, it can be a harsh world out there for Ogwehoweh people. Dismantling that narrative is going to take sometime. But it can be done. We can transform that negative energy. We can be good to one another. I believe that. And I want to help make it happen.

In this program, the baby is the teacher. I’ve already learned so much from Ione and I look forward to learning even more from the class that we will be working with. I hope that it will help me better understand what our young people care about and hope for. I will try to keep updates as to how things go. Until then!

UPDATE:

Ione had a fantastic time in her first day of teaching! The kids in the class were awesome and the other teachers were really positive and inviting. They sang her a welcome song, weighed her and measured her. They talked about how she was developing (she liked to look outside, she could roll over, she could follow movements, she liked colours, she could grab onto things and put her bubbie, a.k.a. pacifier, in her mouth and take it back out again). Her daddy and I took a picture with the entire class. All in all, we are grateful and happy that we get to participate in this awesome program! Looking forward to our next visit :)

S.