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Roots of Empathy was launched in Manitoba as a pilot project in 2001. Positive outcomes resulted in the government of Manitoba offering the program province-wide to public, band-operated and private schools. In the ensuing 20+ years, Roots of Empathy has reached over 100,000 students continuing to help children’s mental health and wellbeing.

A 2024 highlight: On January 16th, Founder and President Mary Gordon was invited to meet with Nello Altomare, the Manitoba Minister of Education at the Manitoba Legislature to delve into discussions on student wellbeing and our Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy programs. After the meeting, she met the Hon. Premier Web Kinew from the Onigaming First Nation.

Connections with Provincial School Mental Health Information

Roots of Empathy supports Manitoba Mental Health Promotion in Schools.

Please visit Manitoba Healthy Schools for more information.

Consider these compelling statistics that underscore the connection between Roots of Empathy and positive mental health and wellbeing:

  • 87% of students: Reported that their Roots of Empathy baby helped them to understand that they have the right to be loved.
  • 95% of teachers: Agreed or strongly agreed that the Roots of Empathy program supported students’ mental health and wellbeing.
  • 86% of parents: Agreed or strongly agreed that, thanks to Roots of Empathy, they feel more valued as a parent.

(Latest Manitoba APE stats updated January 2024)


Since 2000, the Roots of Empathy program has been evaluated by independent researchers through comparative and randomized controlled studies designed to measure the impact of the program on children’s behaviour and social wellbeing. This research has been conducted in numerous countries across three continents.

Research has found that children in the Roots of Empathy program experience:

  • An increase in prosocial behaviours (E.g., sharing, helping and including)
  • An increase in empathy
  • A decrease in aggressive behaviours, including bullying

Specifically, Santos et al (2011) conducted a longitudinal randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the Roots of Empathy program in schools across Manitoba, Canada. This study assessed children in kindergarten, grade 4, grade 8 and compared children participating in the Roots of Empathy program to children not participating in the Roots of Empathy program.

Results of the study found that children in the Roots of Empathy program experienced:

  • A decrease in aggression in children, both immediately and three-years after program completion
  • An increase in prosocial behaviours (E.g., sharing, helping, including) in children immediately following the program

See how Van Walleghem School students are improving their social competence with the help of a very special teacher.

Manitoba Children’s Art 

For more information on our Manitoba programming, contact: 


Colleen Weibel