Roots of Empathy allowed to continue without provincial funding

By David F. Rooney

The Roots of Empathy program, which re-inforces the ability of schoolchildren to empathize with weaker children by introducing them to infants in the classroom, has received a reprieve of sorts after the provincial government cut its funding.

“We’re thrilled that we’ve been given permission by the (Roots of Empathy program’s) national office to operate with reduced capacity,” Linda Chell of the Revelstoke Child Care Society said Monday.

She said the dedication of the local program’s sponsors and their willingness to continue financing the program despite the province’s funding cut shows “how well our local community partnerships work.”

School District 19 and the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy are kicking in $2,400 each while the Child Care Society and the Early Childhood Development Committee are donating $1,200 each to keep the program going.

The Toronto-based national office of the ROE had put all activities on hold in the wake of the province’s decision to stop funding the program, which is credited with helping lower instances of bullying in schools. The national office needed to assess the ability of local programs in this province to operate without the provincial money that helped train facilitators. Revelstoke has five facilitators who will offer between five and six programs in local schools, Chell said.

But it will be tight.

“If three of our facilitators found full-time work or moved away we’d be in trouble,” she said.

The program’s financing was cut after the government announced its then-$2 billion deficit earlier this month.