Primary school pupils complete empathy programme

Primary school pupils have taken part in a programme shown to reduce levels of aggression amongst schoolchildren.

The innovative scheme involves bringing a baby and parent into a classroom once a month throughout the school year giving students the opportunity to track the infant’s milestones. They are encouraged to observe the close relationship between the baby and parent. Through the baby, the children learn to identify and reflect on their own feelings as well as the feelings of others. This helps pupils to become more socially and emotionally aware and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice.

The internationally recognised Roots of Empathy programme was implemented by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in September 2011. This programme targets primary schools and is co-ordinated and led by the Northern Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team and is funded by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Emma McElhone, Roots of Empathy Programme Co-ordinator with the Northern Trust commented,

“The programme is designed to help equip pupils with the skills required to build healthy relationships and carry these skills into adulthood.

"Recently, a celebration event was held by the Northern Trust to thank the families involved for sharing the very precious first year of their baby’s development and to acknowledge the incredible contribution they have made to the lives of the students, as well as the schools.

"We were also delighted to award three of our Instructors for 5 year’s commitment to the Roots of Empathy Programme.

Overall, the celebration event helped to honour how these programmes continue to contribute to more positive parenting and caring communities for all.”

To find out more about Roots of Empathy please visit or contact the Northern Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team on 028 2563 6600.

Cathy Hopkins and baby Maisie who took part in the Roots of Empathy
Programme with Norma Johnston from Moyle Primary School, Larne

Emma Middleton, Laura Shimmon and Baby Myla with Clodagh Webb,
Principal of Acorn Integrated Primary School, Carrickfergus

Amy Donaghy and baby Saoirse who took part in the Roots of Empathy
Programme with Tracy White from Balnamore Primary School, Ballymoney

Lorraine McFerran, Laura McMullan with baby Finn and Noel McCann,
St Patrick's Primary School, Rasharkin

Oonagh Conway with baby Daithi and Donna Maynes from Holy Family
Primary School, Magherafelt that took part in the Roots of Empathy

Cookstown Primary School - Esther Boles, Joanne Murry, Beverley Millar,
Helen Black with baby Harry, Alberta Lamont and Leeanne Jeffers with
baby Tillie

Page last updated:22 June 2016