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Middle & High School Students Host Sweethearts & Heroes

On Monday, December 3, Hartford students hosted “Sweethearts and Heroes.” This engaging, energetic and interactive presentation focuses on bullies, their targets, and the bystanders empowered to make a difference. The crux of the “Sweethearts and Heroes” presentation is five specific “Bully Buttons” which combine calls to action to combat bullying behaviors and provide compassionate empathy to others. The program was developed by former mixed martial artist (MMA) competitor, Mr. Tom Murphy, of St. Albans, VT; and co-developed with Mr. Jason Spector, a teacher and coach in South Glens Falls, N.Y.


The presentation includes a segment from H.O.P.E (Hold On Possibilities Exist) expert Sgt. Rick Yarosh. He is an Army veteran who suffered burns to 60% of his body when an IED hit the Bradley he was riding in while serving in Iraq.  Sgt. Yarosh lost his right leg, fingers, ears, and part of his nose. What Sgt. Yarosh did not lose was HOPE. He shared his story of the horrible pain he felt and inability to see while his body was engulfed in flames. He knew he could die, or he knew he could fight to live. He shared his dislike of going out in public after his horrific experience not because of how he looked, but because of how he made small children feel, usually frightened. That all changed one day when he was sitting in a restaurant (still in a wheelchair and heavily gauzed) when a child about five years old kept staring at him. Her grandfather noticed and said to her, “Go say hello to him.” She was hesitant, but said hello and then was overheard saying to her grandfather, “He’s nice.” That kind and simple comment gave Sgt. Yarosh the hope he needed. 


Part of the presentation included role playing as well as some other exercises which required student volunteers. The students learned about H.O.P.E., bystander empowerment, changing perspective, and more. After the assembly there were plenty and high-fives and hugs. 


Click this link to learn more about Sweethearts & Heroes.