The Empathy Toy on CBC's Our Toronto


Making an Impact in Toronto — and around the world!

The Empathy Toy was broadcast on tvs across Canada this week in a fun and informative segment on CBC’s Our Toronto! The television show produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, highlights high-profile people making an impact in Toronto – and our founder Ilana Ben-Ari is no exception! In a playful interview with CBC Toronto’s Marivel Taruc, Ilana shares the story of how she invented the Empathy Toy while studying Industrial Design at Carleton University, and even demonstrates how to play by playing the game together!

Introducing 21st century skills to the masses

Host Marivel Taruc sets up the program by breaking down the basics for those not quite in-the-know. “They are called 21st century skills or soft skills. Maybe you've heard the term, people skills – the ability to interact socially and harmoniously with others. Not always the skills companies focused on when hiring but that's changing quickly and over at the Centre for Social Innovation, a local toy company has created a game that's teaching an important soft skill: empathy. And it's being embraced by everyone from students to CEOs.”

Empathy not just for kids – The Empathy Toy from MBA programs to HR departments

Marivel is quick to point out that “it isn't just young people benefiting from a toy that teaches empathy,” as we’re shown footage from a recent trip to the Chinese University of Hong Kong to deliver Empathy Toy workshops to students in the MBA program there. Interestingly enough, the Empathy Toy is being used not only to develop skills in current employees and students training to take on roles in the workforce one day, but also to evaluate candidates when making hiring decisions.

Embracing Empathy in “a city struggling to deal with issues of racism”

Among the numerous awards won by Ilana’s company, the most heartwarming validation is the impact of the Empathy Toy in her hometown of Winnipeg. Describing how St John’s High School empowered twenty-one student leaders to run their own Empathy Toy workshops with their classmates, we learn the school found an amazing “85 percent drop in students being sent to the office.” With stats like that, it’s no surprise that the efforts and effects of the student leadership program caught the attention of the Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman, who “honoured the teens and the toy with a certificate of appreciation.”