90by30 kicks off 2019 Roots of Empathy Program at Harrison, London Elementary Schools

Friday, Oct. 4, is the deadline for families to participate in the internationally known Roots of Empathy program in Lane County. Eligible families have babies between two and four months of age.

Roots of Empathy is an elementary-school based program that pairs a local family (with a newborn) with a first or second-grade classroom for an entire school year. The program is designed to develop empathy in young children, and has been shown to increase pro-social behaviors and reduce aggressive behaviors – including bullying – in the children who participate compared to peers. Children first develop empathy with the infant, then with each other, and ultimately, with the wider world around them.

90by30’s Roots of Empathy program piloted in 19 classrooms in the 2018-19 school year; “tiny teachers” and their families will again participate in the program at Harrison and London Elementary schools this fall. Roots of Empathy classrooms can be found in 14 countries around the world; Lane County is only the seventh approved location to implement this program in the U.S

Phyllis Barkhurst, director of 90by30, states, “We believe, and the evidence shows, that if children develop the capacity for empathy in their early years, they are unlikely to be bullies or cause harm through harassment or abuse to others as they mature. We are excited to add this program to Lane County as a commitment to the long view – empathetic children of today become compassionate adults tomorrow”.

“The Roots of Empathy program has been such a positive experience for all of us, and we are so excited to be a part of the pioneering efforts here in our community,” said Brittany Hornung, parent of a Lane County “tiny teacher” this past school year.

When asked about her experience as a Roots of Empathy family, Kelly Pelroy commented “Every time I would leave (the classroom) and walk down the hallway, I just couldn’t stop smiling. It filled me up for the next month, until we went back.”

To make this program work in 30 classrooms this fall, 90by30 needs more babies born between June 1 and Aug. 15 to participate in classrooms with a parent or guardian. Interested families should contact Sara Loveless, Lane County Coordinator, at [email protected]

90by30 is a child abuse prevention initiative housed in the University of Oregon’s Center for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect. It aims to reduce child abuse in Lane County by 90 percent by 2030 with a combination of community-driven, research-based prevention strategies picked by the residents of each Lane County region. More information about 90by30 is available at www.90by30.com.


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