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Empathy x Innovation

This is why your children need to know about Easton LaChappelle:  He was just a curious kid when one thing led to another… he wasn’t daunted by big future plans.  He doesn’t worry about people not taking him seriously because of his young age.  Chasing his passion led to mounting respect from the scientific and business community, and has empowered him to take the road less travelled.


So who is Easton LaChapelle?

Easton didn’t start his journey with the goal of: I will become a prolific designer of prosthetics.  He just wanted to build a robotic hand because it was cool.  He first got the idea to build a robotic hand controlled by a glove from watching YouTube when he was 14.  As a curious kid who liked taking things apart, the appeal of applying his knowledge into building something new was a given.  Nine months later, the robotic hand evolved into a robotic arm constructed from Legos, aeroplane motors, and fishing wire.  With no big plans in mind,  Easton was simply developing his ideas one step at a time. 

Everything began to snowball when he entered a local science fair that led him to an international science fair, where he took second place in the world in engineering.  This is the moment where his small idea became big.  Easton wasn’t blinded by the recognition and attention he got from his achievement, instead, he turned his gaze towards a 7-year old girl wearing a very primitive prosthetic arm and admiring his robotic one.  Easton's mission became clear— it wasn’t about him or simply building robotic limbs, it was about how he could make tech more accessible and affordable for others.  


So what does this mean?

Empathy was the magic ingredient that elevated his project into a mission.   It takes a strong capacity to understand the struggles of another person in a context different from yours to make the connection that he did.  Without empathy, his chance meeting with the 7-year old prosthetics user would not have meant very much and it would not have led to the conclusion that he could make a difference and help people around the world with his work in robotics.  Though the capacity for empathy may be innate, the practice of empathy is a learned behaviour.

Defining your values.   Before we can have a meaningful discussion, it’s important to first identify what we value and why it matters to us.  For younger kids, it may be difficult for them to put it into words - but this is good news - it’s a chance to build their vocabulary around the topic. 

Here are 3 easy activities to spark conversation and help nurture empathy using  our free printable value cards:



Activity 1 - Learn about what it means to hold a value!

  1. Cut out the cards and lay them on the table with the words face down.
  2. Take turns flipping cards one at a time.  Each time, using your own words to describe what it means to hold that value. 


Activity 2 - Learn about the significance of each value.

  1.  Cut out the cards and lay them on the table with the words face up.
  2. Take turns picking up cards that you value and explaining why it’s important to you.
    (for a more advanced game: name an action that would violate/go against that value)


Activity 3 - Reflect on which values matter the most.

  1. Cut out the cards and lay them on the table with the words face up.
  2. Each player needs to select their top 5 values and explain their choices.
    (for a more advanced game: ask each person to cut down to their top 3 values and explain their choices)
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