It's a country-wide program that has changed the lives of many in Moose Jaw. 

Roots of Empathy celebrated their five-year milestone at the Hillcrest Church on Wednesday, which brought together all current instructors and babies with their families who are participating this year or have participated in the past. 

Community Advocate/Roots of Empathy Key Point Person, Daycee Richardson, said their program is integral to the development of children and youth in the city. 

"We teach emotional literacy and we do that in a really special way by partnering with one of these families that has a new baby, and they come into the classroom throughout the school year to the same group of students. The baby visits nine times during the year, the instructor who's trained that comes with them visits 27 times, so before and after those visits. The children or youth are coached to observe the attachment relationships between the parent and the children," said Richardson. 

Roots of Empathy is offered to both the Prairie South and Holy Trinity School Divisions from Kindergarten to Grade 8 classrooms. Richardson said babies have the ability to change the day of a child in an instant. 

When a baby is first brought into a classroom the children sing a welcome song, and during that time the mother or father brings the baby around to meet each child in the class one at a time. 

"We do that very intentionally because we want the students to make eye contact with the baby. Research shows that if they can make eye contact for two to three seconds, the happy hormones in their body, the levels just go soaring and that in itself can affect how they learn throughout the day. It can affect their own engagement in that session and how they feel about themselves."

One of the mothers in the program with her baby this year was Kaelyn Turberfield and her son Jett. She said that being a teacher and mom made it exciting for her to see the benefits from both sides, and her son Jett was able to build a little fan base through the experience. 

"Tracking milestones and having other people to cheer him on as well and to be really curious about what's happening in his life. I just feel like he's got a lot of love, the circle of love is just that much more extended when you have kids. Kids are just, there's just something about babies and they're attracted to kids and it's just kind of a cool experience to see."

Jett met his classroom when he was two months old at the beginning of the school year. 

"It's something we'll look back years from now. I think we'll always call him our Roots of Empathy baby. As a parent, it's fun to see the kids in a different setting where it's a little bit less structure, a little more flexibility, and they get to ask questions. They get to see him growing and its almost like he belongs to them as well."

Turburfield said their family has run into the students outside of the classroom and the kids will quickly come up and want to see Jett and ask how he's doing. 

The Roots of Empathy program has had over 30 families participate over the five-year span and has had to the put babies and parents on waiting lists in the past as they're usually in need of more trained instructors.