Empathy Day inspires kids to walk, read and learn

Empathy Day returns on 10 June 2021 with a new theme calling for children and young people across the county to walk through their neighbourhood, see it through others eyes and consider how they can make a positive impact.

The awareness day, which is supported by Somerset County Council, is spearheaded by EmpathyLab- an organisation which encourages children to build real-life empathy skills through literacy.

It aims to inspire young people to join a new empathy movement, informed by research that empathy is a learnable skill and that stories can help us understand each other better.

This year Somerset Libraries have bought a new Empathy book collection. This features 50 books for 4-16-year olds – chosen to build young people’s empathy. Moving out of lockdown gives children and young adults an ideal opportunity to learn how to empathise with other people.

 It has been a tough year for all, especially children and young adults with long absences from school and lockdown preventing them seeing their friends. For any of our younger residents who are feeling anxious the library has a Children’s Mental Health collection which is available to all.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council member responsible for libraries, said: “We are not born with a fixed quantity of empathy – it’s something we can learn. This newly revised empathy book collection is a perfect way for the young people of Somerset to learn an important life-skill.

“There are many other collections too, designed to help and advise on things such as Mental Health, Dementia, Autism and other long term conditions – all selected by health professionals and designed to help people manage their own health and wellbeing.”

As part of this year’s Empathy day programme EmpathyLab are calling on families to take their own Empathy Walk to consider their neighbourhood in a new light and reflect on actions they can take to make a positive impact in their community.

Founder of EmpathyLab, Miranda McKearney OBE, said: “Let’s have an empathy sonic boom on 10 June. The seismic shift in perspective we’ve experienced in the pandemic has created an unprecedented chance to build a better society. We need a new drive to help everyone learn about and practise empathy – a quality of character which can change the world. Science shows us it’s something we can all learn by reading books. More empathy means happier children and stronger communities.”