Motivational group Sweethearts & Heroes Returns to WVCSD

Warwick. Sweethearts & Heroes will provide students and educators with their strategy for
”HOPE”--Hold on, possibilities exist!--in the classroom and beyond.

| 03 Jan 2023 | 04:41

Sweethearts & Heroes, describing themselves as a student empowerment and empathy activation team, will make a return visit to the Warwick Valley Central School District on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 17 and 18, to raise awareness of, and help prevent, bullying and suicide.

The Sweethearts & Heroes team is Tom Murphy (Director); retired US Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh, and Pat Fish. Sgt. Yarosh sustained severe burns while serving with the military in Iraq. Now he shares his experiences as a HOPE expert and motivational speaker during Sweethearts & Heroes signature presentations.

These sessions call for “HOPE, empathy and action.” Interactions with students and faculty include using the ancient ritual of communicating in a circle (referred to as Circle), and training older students to become “BRAVES Buddies,” during which they learn “bully drills” that they can then teach to their younger schoolmates.

“We’re thrilled to be back in New York for the 2022-2023 school year, and we’re honored that our friends and colleagues in Warwick have invited us back,” said Murphy, whose team worked in the district in September. “The most recent national data tells us that student anxiety and hopelessness are still on the rise – a trend that was escalating before COVID hit – so our work is crucial.”

Murphy and Yarosh presented a signature presentation about HOPE, action, and empathy to Warwick students during their September visit. During their return visit, Murphy, Yarosh and Fish will co-facilitate Circle sessions, which help students work on various social-emotional skills. Each session provides participants with opportunities to share their own “amazing story,” and to practice listening to learn the “amazing stories” of others.

“Circle is an opportunity for amazing stories to be shared and heard, and amazing doesn’t necessarily mean good or bad,” said Fish, who added that some of the stories he’s heard have been heartbreaking, others heartwarming, and others downright hilarious. “But every single one of us has an amazing story, because we all have unique experiences. Everywhere we go, students of all ages, social groups, and backgrounds want to participate in Circle. They want to connect further with the people around them, and Circle is a vehicle for that.”

In 2021, Sweethearts & Heroes released 13 Pillows for Affective Teachers, a publication on HOPE, Empathy and Action in the Sweethearts & Heroes curriculum. The group has presented what Murphy calls “‘the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying” for over 15 years and to more than two million students in schools from New England to Hawaii. They also tailor their presentations and workshops for businesses, non-profits and civic groups.