Roots of Empathy has been called "Canada's olive branch to the world."
A charitable organization, our mission is to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. Our vision is to change the world – child by child.
Roots of Empathy is considered a model of social innovation. We have two programs: a flagship program of the same name for children in elementary school (Roots of Empathy) and its "younger sibling," a program for children ages three-to-five in early childhood settings Seeds of Empathy.
The Roots of Empathy program was founded in Canada in 1996 by Mary Gordon, an internationally recognized educator, social entrepreneur, author and child advocate, and today has reached more than half a million children worldwide.
At the heart of the program are classroom visits by an infant and parent. Through guided observations of this loving relationship, children learn to identify and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings and those of others. Independent evaluations consistently show children who receive Roots of Empathy experience dramatic and lasting effects in terms of increased positive social behaviour (sharing, helping and including) and decreased aggression.
Roots of Empathy has been recognized by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Emotional Intelligence author Daniel Goleman, and the World Health Organization, among others. The organization works in partnership with Indigenous people globally, and has been endorsed in Canada by National Chief Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo (and former Chief Phil Fontaine) of the Assembly of First Nations. Mary Gordon has won numerous awards, and the program has also won an international Changemakers award from the Ashoka organization.