World’s youngest teachers honoured

THEY are just marking their first birthdays, but a group of babies have been celebrating their contribution to teaching over the past school year.

A number of babies were honoured at a Roots of Empathy Baby Celebration held in local primary schools throughout the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust area. With their parents, these babies have been teaching children in local classrooms important lessons about expressing feelings, respect, inclusion, child development and safety, and the power of a loving bond between parent and child.

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that reduces levels of aggression among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. 

The programme goals are:

* To foster the development of empathy

* To develop emotional literacy

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* To reduce levels of bullying, aggression and violence, and promote children’s pro-social behaviours

* To increase knowledge of human development, learning and infant safety

* To prepare students for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting

Jason White, Assistant Director of Health and Wellbeing said: “The volunteer mothers and babies visit the classroom nine times over the school year and are at the heart of the Roots of Empathy programme.

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“Although these babies are only small, they have had a big impact on the lives of older children and the research tells us that this impact, which leads to more caring and supportive classrooms, will last for years to come. The Trust would like to say thank you to both the babies and their families for their commitment to the Roots of Empathy programme over the last year.”

The project was funded by Peace 3, Big Lottery Fund, Public Health Agency, Police Service of Northern Ireland & Queen’s University Belfast. Further information can be found at

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