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How to be an Empathy Superhero!

25 Aug 2023

How to be an empathy superhero

"It made me think about people's feelings"

"This is the best day"

How to be an Empathy Superhero!

June 8 - Empathy Day 2023 – saw 550 excited children from 14 primary schools from across the city make their way by tram, coach and on foot to the National Cycling Centre (Velodrome) to be part of our exclusive author event, held in partnership with EmpathyLab.

Schools submitted entries in a bid to win a place at the event which was the only live in-person author event in a packed programme of activity from EmpathyLab. Schools sent us letters, pictures and videos and told us why empathy was so important to them. One school told us:

"Developing empathy can lead to better communication skills, increase positive relationships and ultimately, improved academic achievement."

One of the children told us that "empathy means to me that you show passion or that you care for somebody and you don’t just care about yourself, you care about others."

Manchester Libraries and Read Manchester hosted the live schools event in collaboration EmpathyLab, who brought top children’s authors Rob Biddulph, Sophy Henn and Rashmi Sirdeshpande to the Velodrome, hosted by poet Paul Jenkins. The authors shared their own empathy resolutions with the audience and children shared their resolutions with each other, learning how to boost their empathy superpowers! The atmosphere in the Velodrome was full of excitement, as children got to see the world-class sporting stadium as well as meeting the authors – adding up to a day not to be forgotten!

Every child was given a Read Manchester goody bag and gifted a copy of the empathy-themed We've Got This! by Rashmi Sirdeshpande. Thanks to the generous support of a whole host of publishers, each school was also given a selection of empathy themed books to add to their school library collections.

This is what some children said about the event:

"It helped me learn not to be embarrassed about your name because everyone is different"

"I love designing the superhero and thinking about the qualities he needed in order to be a superhero"

How to be an empathy superhero

Mission Empathy isn’t just for one day!

As part of Read Manchester’s wider empathy programme, Read for Empathy book collections were gifted to 15 primary and 10 high schools. The collections comprise 40 books for primaries and 25 books for high schools and feature a range of excellent stories and non-fiction to support empathy-building and reflect a diverse range of authors, characters and themes.

Find out more about the collections on EmpathyLab's website..

How to be an empathy superhero

Schools shared with us why empathy is so important to them:

"[Our school] would benefit hugely from the [book] collection to build a stronger, kinder community that understand the world around them and provides children with the skills set to understand their own feelings and emotions in order to support others in our community. Empathy is a crucial life skill that all children need. A number of our children this year have been accessing food banks, arriving from war torn countries such as Sudan or Iraq and have often witnessed unimaginable scenarios. They are finding it difficult to talk about their emotions and do not necessarily have the vocabulary to do so."

"We intend to ensure that the children's understanding of empathy is seamlessly weaved through our curriculum and way of life at school. We don't want these resources to be a 'one time' thing that the children learn about and never think about again, we want them to be able to verbalise and communicate what it means to be empathetic and understand what we can learn from the lives of others and the experiences of others too."

"As a school, we have been working hard as a staff, both in and out of lessons to raise social and emotional competence in our children in an effort to increase their empathy towards themselves and to others. We encourage children to share, help and include others in games, activities and tasks. Children find it very difficult to ‘put themselves into other people’s shoes’ so we make this a focus in a range of topics and subjects."

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