Created by a former teacher and educational coach, the HEROES Project was designed specifically for at-risk middle and high school students to help them develop empathy. With a variety of engaging activities, each lasting 5-15 minutes, HEROES is a “modular” intervention that can be used in a variety of settings, from intensive 1-1 counseling, to small groups, to class or school-wide.
HEROES focuses on several research-based components of empathy development in youths:
Identifying feelings in everyday situations
Role-plays and acting that help students practice perspective-taking
Consideration of alternative perspectives
Mindfulness to decrease distress
HEROES also has tips for how teachers and staff can cultivate their own empathy. Since empathy has a domino effect (van Baaren, Decety,Dijksterhuis, van der Leij, & van Leeuwen, 2009), adults can start the empathy chain reaction and “pass it forward” to students.
A preliminary study of HEROES with a counseling group of 5 students showed a 70% reduction in disciplinary referrals for the group, increases in empathy and prosocial behavior, and decreases in anger.
Do you or your school want to be trained on how to implement the HEROES Project? Contact me!