Schools invited to join initiative fostering 'empathy, kindness and connection'

Launched this week by the Narrative 4 charity, co-founded by author Colum McCann

Schools in Cavan are being invited to join a new national award scheme aimed at recognising and celebrating post-primary schools that promote empathy, kindness and connection among students and staff.

The initiative, launching today, is being rolled out to schools across the country by Narrative 4 Ireland, a Limerick-based empathy education organisation that has trained hundreds of teachers and youth workers to deliver an evidence-based teaching method that fosters connection, empathy and encourages positive relationships in the classroom.

“I think we can all see why something like this is so timely. The world is very fractured at the moment, barriers are being reinforced and hate crimes and online bullying are rising. We need to dig deeper when it comes to bringing people back together” says TG4 presenter and awards ambassador Louise Cantillon.

She adds: “Empathy education cultivates vital life skills in young people. It increases awareness of diversity, improves social skills, and gives young people a sense of belonging and connection. The pandemic has been extremely difficult for young people and their teachers. It has isolated and separated us in different ways and stripped away important ways to connect, learn and grow together. Thankfully people are responding to these challenges, not least teachers and students out there cultivating a culture of kindness and connection that reminds us of our humanity. This new award initiative is about encouraging and celebrating this work and we're looking forward to schools in Cavan being part of it all.”

The Narrative 4 Empathy School Award follows the format of having three levels of recognition for schools: gold, silver and bronze.

The Gold Award requires at least 10 teachers to be trained in Narrative 4’s Empathy Education Online CPD as part of their continued professional development.

Other requirements include a School Empathy Charter, a ‘Walk and Talk’ Empathy Challenge, and a series of modules for both students and staff.

The silver and bronze options have similar components, albeit with less time commitments.

Narrative 4 was co-founded in 2012 by New York-based Irish author Colum McCann, who went on to bring it to Ireland in 2016.