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Roots of Empathy (ROE) is a Canadian, award-winning program, developed by Mary Gordon, that has been shown to have a dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children by raising social/emotional awareness and increasing empathy.
Roots of Empathy was launched in Manitoba as a pilot project in 2001. Positive outcomes resulted in Manitoba offering ROE province-wide to interested public, band-operated and private school divisions and communities. In July 2008, the Assembly of First Nations, at their Annual General Assembly, passed Resolution 31 endorsing and supporting ROE and SOE as programs compatible with traditional First Nations teachings.
In 2013/14 approximately 6000 Manitoba students from kindergarten to grade 8 participated. Approximately 35,000 Manitoba students have participated in ROE in the past 13 years.
From 2002 to 2006 Manitoba conducted a randomized control trial and longitudinal follow-up to determine the real world effectiveness of the ROE program, as delivered under routine conditions of practice in school divisions. The results demonstrated that ROE decreased students’ physical aggression and indirect aggression, and increased students’ pro-social behaviour immediately after program completion. Follow-up results demonstrated that these beneficial effects were maintained or continued to improve up to three years after ROE program completion. Based on these rigorous evaluation results, ROE has continued to expand across the province, with ongoing monitoring of program fidelity and student outcomes.
Roots of Empathy is an important component of Reclaiming Hope - Manitoba's Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.