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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 100,000 students.

In 2020, there were 350 classrooms of students in 32 out of 37 School Divisions across the Province participating in the program. Participation was equitable and accessible to any and all School Divisions in the province. In 2021, the Province of Manitoba, through the Manitoba Department of Education, supported the Roots of Empathy Recovery Program.

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.


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