Riverland Students Teach Fifth-Graders About Empathy

November 08, 2018 06:03 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Every other Thursday during lunch, fifth-graders at IJ Holton Intermediate School tackle a new subject focused on empathy.

The Empathy Project was developed by Riverland Community College Students.


Every session, the college students break down the building blocks of empathy into topics like conflict management and perspective taking, but in a way that fifth-graders can understand.

The college students started researching topics for the program back in January, but rolled out the program for the middle school students this fall.

This week, mentors put on a skit about a classmate who had a rough time after a fight with a parent.

Mentor Deandre Raggs says this is a lesson for the students.

“On how you can overcome and how you can notice somebody having a bad day, so you can just talk to them and try to figure out what is wrong,” Raggs said.

Afterward, mentors spoke with the fifth-graders about what they can do for a friend in a similar situation.

"I could ask them, are you OK? Why are you sad? I'll usually try to make them laugh if he is having a hard time," said mentee Phillip Gills.

Mentor Hannah Nelson says it’s important to start developing empathy as soon as possible.

"Empathy is something these kids are going to use throughout their entire lives and it will be very good, whether in workplace or school," Nelson said.

She added that a mentorship program is the best way to develop these skills.

“There’s a mutual trust and respect between each other,” said Hanna.


Talia Milavetz

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