This week we've decided to delve a little deeper into the journey that leads to the creation of Empower Empathy. Five years ago, we (Angel and Tina) serendipitous ran into each other in a city halfway across the country from where we first met in High School.
Discussions on parenting lead to discussions on cultural issues such as division in society, the rise of mental health issues, and the lack of intentional education on the skills that seem to be most meaningful. These soft skills include empathy, perseverance, growth mindset, integrity, etc. We then conducted a qualitative survey three and a half years ago which verified that most parents believe that social and emotional intelligence is just as, if not more, important than academic pursuits. Yet interestingly, most parents do not spend enough time helping their children hone those soft skills.
With Angel's background in educational psychology, we started working with many counselors, special education teachers, and therapists on how to integrate techniques that improve soft skills into a teaching curriculum. Instead of sitting a child down for another "class" on emotional intelligence, we decide that learning through play is actually the most effective. So after three years of play-testing, revising, editing, and designing we finally came up with Empower Empathy.
Finding a solution for a divided society, improving mental wellness, and reinstating character values do not happen overnight. But what we can do now is to start sowing seeds of kindness and understanding. There are thousands of quotes that we can share by people from Gandhi to Obama to George Eliot on just how important Empathy is for humanity. Unfortunately, the fact remains that we have an empathy deficit in our current society. Our research showed that Empathy, if not practiced, can be lost. Conversely, Empathy with practice can be strengthened like a muscle. If our brains can be trained and rewired to become more empathetic, why aren't we doing it? And what is the exercise regimen for it?
We've come to build such an exercise regimen for emotional awareness and empathy into our board game Empower Empathy. No one can be lectured into becoming kinder, but we can practice recognizing what others are feeling and communicating our own feelings - and that in itself is a powerful tool that we can equip our children with.
Emotions and Risks
Launching a creative project that you've poured your heart, sweat, and tears into is an emotional and humbling journey. Being a product in a niche market, in our case, an educational tool that is also a board game faces all of the difficulties of any first movers in any market. Our board game costs much less than other educational/therapeutic games in the market but more than a typical store-bought board game, like Monopoly. We didn't want to mass-produce the game at the expense of quality, so we chose to work with a small artisan board game maker that cares about craftsmanship as much as we do. Hitting the launch button on November 15 was not without risks and fears, but we chose to take a chance to launch the campaign. The biggest hurdle for us has been and continues to be about getting the word out by educating the public on the value of educating emotional and social intelligence.
Now at the last week of our campaign, we do need to significantly spread the word in order to meet our final funding goal, otherwise, the campaign will not be funded, and the game will not be able to be released at the introductory Kickstarter price. This will be our biggest hurdle over the final few weeks of the campaign.
We sincerely ask you to join us to be ambassadors of mental health and empathy and back us on our Kickstarter campaign!