CHILDREN at St. Mary's Primary School in Newtownbutler are being taught to respect themselves and others through a unique empathy programme.

In the year-long initiative funded by the Public Health Agency and organised by the Western Trust and the Western Education and Library Board, kids are also taught to challenge cruelty and injustice.

Local mother Siobhan McDaid and her baby son Sean have visited the P5 class nine times so far, as part of the programme.

Sinead Donnelly, a trained Roots of Empathy instructor, has worked with the class during each session, guiding the children as they observe the relationship between mother and baby.

The programme aims to reduce levels of aggression among school children by raising social and emotional competence to increase empathy.

"Evaluation of the programme has demonstrated that participating children become more socially and emotionally aware and more likely to challenge cruelty and injustice," said Principal Paula Kelly.

"Roots of Empathy compliments the personal development and mutual understanding element of the NI curriculum and St Mary's core policies such as promoting positive behaviour, pastoral care and anti-bullying," she added.