My Blog Introduction

Sexuality, marriage and family, and the connection to empathy


Roots of Empathy Founder President Mary Gordon spends a lot of time talking about children, but the foundations of her work – the development of empathy – are also relevant to adult relationships.

Mary is delivering the keynote at the Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies Department Research Symposium at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario on Friday April 6. The symposium highlights student and faculty research dealing with relationships, families, and human sexuality. This year it’s about pathways to empathy.

According to the symposium website, “the SMF Department encourages an overarching vision of social justice and anti-oppression through research and scholarship, and emphasizes the importance of that vision through the Research Symposium.” This fits beautifully with Roots of Empathy’s goal to create a world that is inclusive and where children are empowered to use their voice for change.

The event is open to the public and you can read more about Mary’s presentation here.

April 5th, 2018

The Trans Experience in Education

What happens when you hear the people you love say things like “And to think his mother wanted a boy” or “It would be easier if you transitioned in the south”? How do you navigate a world where you can’t be who you know you are without feeling shame and fear? And what happens when you finally do let the world know who you really are? These are the questions Claire Birkenshaw answered for us at our Speaker Series about the trans experience in education.

Claire was the first person to transition while working as a school principal in the UK. She now consults, advocates and speaks about her experience.  Claire wants education, and society, to learn and adapt.  She wants children to see her as a role model who lives her life with truth and integrity, so that they can too.  Since her talk, Claire has been nominated for Positive Role Model of the Year by the National Diversity Awards in the UK. We’re thrilled and we think she deserves the award.



While in Toronto, Claire also visited a TDSB Grade 8 Roots of Empathy classroom where she told students the story of her transition. The students called her ‘inspirational’ and said it takes kindness and empathy to include those who are different in any way.




Claire’s talk was deeply moving – she took us with her on her personal journey. Here it is.



– Cheryl Jackson

February 23rd, 2018

Welcome to What’s New

Welcome to our Roots of Empathy blog. We’re calling it What’s New, because this is where we will share our news – where we’re growing, what we’re hearing from children and our volunteers, where I’ll be speaking, and what we are learning from researchers around the world who study not only our empathy based programs, but childhood wellness.

Our big news right now is that we’re expanding to the Netherlands, starting in the fall of 2018. This means we’ll be delivering our programs in 12 countries.  We’re beyond thrilled with this opportunity and we’re busy organizing – planning Instructor trainings, prepping our curriculum for Dutch speaking children, and raising awareness and support.

We’ve also had many more requests from across the globe since the release of a feature about Roots of Empathy on BBC World Hacks which describes itself as “an innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world’s problems.” We’re proud to be on that list. You can watch and listen to that report on our Roots in the News page.

Please check in here when you can to see what we’re up to.




January 29th, 2018