Empathy is what happens when you try to understand what someone else is feeling. It is different from sympathy in that you don’t necessarily feel the same way. It is like putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Here are two remarkable stories of young people making a difference in peoples lives that will touch you.

Hannah a little girl from the States was only four years old when her empathy for a homeless man changed his life and the lives of many others.

Today people from all over the world collect socks in Hannah’s name to help those in need. To find out more on how she did it and on the Sock Drives she inspired, visit http://www.hannahssocks.org

Terry Fox, a Canadian hero, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1977. At the hospital, he felt sorry for those who had related cancer problems, especially the children.

He decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. The Marathon of Hope idea has spread around the world and has raised over 300 million. To find out more click on http://www.terryfox.org

Empathy is one of the six core skills that Terry Fox demonstrated to accomplish his goal and What he still stands for today. The other five core skills are listed below:

  1. Courage
  2. Responsibility
  3. Determination
  4. Humility
  5. Perseverance

“[E]mpathy is a skill that children learn. Its value is multifold. Children who are empathic tend to do better in school, in social situations, and in their adult careers. . . . The best teachers of that skill are the children’s parents.” (source: pexels.com)


Self-absorption kills empathy. When we focus on ourselves and see the world from our own narrow perspective, our world becomes smaller as our problems loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands.

To be empathetic we need imagination. Imagination allows us to picture ourselves in the other person’s situation and to become aware of his suffering.

“[R]eading, and particularly the reading of fiction, encourages us to view the world in new and challenging ways…It allows us to inhabit the consciousness of another which is a precursor to empathy, and empathy is, for me, one of the marks of a decent human being.”
― John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things

I believe that it is important to foster empathy in our kids. In my book The Weird Adventures of Virgo Capella, the twelve-year-old boy Virgo is at first focused on his own problems and feels sorry for himself. A surprise encounter with a street kid and a strange boy named Biham an alien from another planet, throws him for a loop. At first Virgo doesn’t give a hoot, but gradually he develops empathy for the alien as the story progresses . . . see the Books page for more information.

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