West Lane's Roots of Empathy program has received extensive coverage in The Siuslaw News lately in two in-depth articles written by Damien Sherwood. The first article, "Planting Roots of Empathy," appeared on December 1 and offered a deep dive into the program's effect on students, teachers, instructors, and the community as a whole. A description of one classroom visit:
This month’s family visit theme is emotions, so Mann-Heintz asks, “When you learn new things, how do you feel?” Many children exclaim at once, “Happy!”
Wilson’s father takes the toy away and the class watches Wilson’s brief, longing gaze as the toy disappears. The class then discusses how one can show that they want something.
Mann-Heintz uses the opportunity to ask the children what to do if they detect someone in need. “If your friend feels sad, what could you do to make them feel better?”
“You could ask them to play with you,” replies one girl after a moment’s thought.
The second article, a followup focusing on Mapleton, appeared this weekend. "Baby Steps" connects the positive, community-building impact of ROE to recent tragedies in Mapleton that took several lives:
In a community emotionally drained, the recent welcoming of a program which increases children’s base level of emotional literacy provides some respite from the sadness. Not only a boost for morale, O’Mara sees it as an opportunity to strengthen communal coping mechanisms.
“While many of the events that happened were not preventable, I think Roots of Empathy gives our kids — and hopefully eventually our community — the skills to help work through those and have conversations face to face and have a little deeper understanding and caring,” she said. “I think that’s the key: how people — students, and then from students it goes up to adults — cope with the grief and the loss and the tragedy.”
Many thanks to The Siuslaw News for so prominently featuring this wonderful program!