An amazing duo of superheroes without capes visited Lisha Kill Middle School this week to show students and educators how they can spread HOPE (Hold On, Possibilities Exist) in their classrooms—and beyond.
Tom Murphy and Rick Yarosh, of Sweethearts & Heroes, a student empowerment and empathy activation team that aims to prevent bullying and suicide, worked with the Lisha Kill Middle School community on Jan. 30.
Sweethearts & Heroes had delivered their profound, engaging, signature presentation that calls for HOPE, Empathy and Action. Circle, which had been 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, of St. Albans, VT; Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh, a HOPE expert and motivational speaker from New York who was burned severely while serving in Iraq; and Pat Fish, BRAVE and Circle Leader. (For more on Circle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q286yIL9L1E)
Sentiments shared by the Sweethearts and heroes team prior to the presentation highlighted their goals for this visit. “We’re coming to Colonie to cultivate compassion and empathy,” Murphy said. “We aim to stop students from making destructive decisions and help them treat each other with kindness. We also make our messages sustainable in schools, so that they have an eventual and sustainable effect on the local community. The spider web effect is powerful.”
Throughout their presentation, the team implemented many components of fun, their belief that children of all ages learn new information more effectively when it is introduced in low pressure settings. Students responded well to their instruction, paying close attention to what was said while denser topics were broken up with lighthearted commentary, easing the tension in the room. The team’s powerful message of hope, and the strength it takes to truly care for one another, continued to echo through the hallways for the remainder of the day.
“As students left the auditorium, they were discussing what they had just learned among themselves. We had a couple of students approach us and proudly recite the four pillars of kindness the Sweethearts & Heroes team had laid out,” said Lisha Kill principal Jill Penn. “It was clear to me that our students had really taken this information to heart. We are so thankful to Tom and Rick for coming by to speak to the Lisha Kill community and we are excited to continue to foster empathy and hope amongst our students moving forward.”
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. Murphy said, “We go where we’re needed. That’s what heroes do.”
For more information on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit sweetheartsandheroes.com.