On March 27, 2024

150 students activate HOPE with Sweethearts & Heroes

Courtesy of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union
Teammates Tom Murphy and Sgt. Rick Yarosh smile with Levi Machia, a 6th-grader at The Neshobe School in Brandon.

RNESU hosted the anti-bullying and suicide prevention program, March 18

An amazing duo of superheroes without capes came to Brandon to show middle school students how they can spread HOPE (Hold On, Possibilities Exist) in their classrooms and beyond.

Tom Murphy and Sgt. Rick Yarosh, of Sweethearts & Heroes, worked in the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union (RNESU) on Monday, March 18.

Sweethearts & Heroes is a student empowerment and empathy activation team that aims to prevent hopelessness, suicide and bullying with a focus on the basic components of social-emotional learning.

Sweethearts & Heroes offers a profound, engaging signature presentation that calls for HOPE, Empathy and Action; Circle, which is built on the ancient ritual of communicating in a circle to build empathy; and BRAVE Buddies, which trains older students in bully drills that they, in turn, teach to students in lower grades.

The Sweethearts & Heroes team is: Tom Murphy, director and founder from St. Albans; Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh, a HOPE expert, Purple Heart recipient and motivational speaker from New York who was burned severely while serving in Iraq; and Pat Fish, BRAVE and Circle Leader.

While in the RNESU on March 18, Murphy and Yarosh presented their signature assembly to 150 students at Otter Valley Union Middle and High School. Students attended from Otter Valley, Neshobe School, Lothrop School, and Otter Creek Academy.

For the remainder of the day, Yarosh conducted question and answer sessions with students, while Murphy led Circle activities.

“The RNESU would love to extend a big thank you to Tom, Rick, and the entire Sweethearts & Heroes team for coming to our district and working with our students,” said Max Burman, RNESU coordinator of communications and outreach. “In the RNESU, we are dedicated to the development of character, competence, creativity, and community. Organizations such as Sweethearts & Heros exemplify the values that we seek to instill in all students. The work that they do is incredibly powerful and meaningful in today’s world.”

For more than 16 years, Sweethearts & Heroes has presented what Murphy calls “‘the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying” to more than 2.5 million students in school districts from New England to Hawaii and north into Canada. Sweethearts & Heroes also tailors its presentations and workshops for businesses, non-profits and civic groups.

Murphy said, “We go where we’re needed. That’s what heroes do.”

Sweethearts & Heroes has also created the HOPE Classroom, a digital subscription service designed for various grade levels and different school sizes. This value-packed offering can allow Sweethearts & Heroes to be in every school in the U.S. For more information visit: thehopeclassroom.com.

Also available is the Sweethearts & Heroes’ book, “13 Pillows For Affective Teachers,” which is a novel that covers the themes of HOPE, empathy and action in the Sweethearts & Heroes curriculum. “13 Pillows” is based on real students and teachers that Sweethearts & Heroes has encountered. Murphy cowrote the book with Brian McKeon, of New York. 

For more information  on the prevention program Sweethearts & Heroes, visit: 

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