Cooperstown Central School District hosted Sweethearts & Heroes, a self-proclaimed “student empowerment and empathy activation team that prevents bullying and suicide,” as part of the school’s commitment to “creating a safe environment where children can thrive, socially and academically, without being afraid.”
“We are so excited to partner with Sweethearts & Heroes to build practices aimed at building community and belonging, supporting social and emotional development, and helping students understand their role as community members,” said Amy Malcuria, vice principal of CCSD.
The program is led by motivational speakers Tom Murphy, director and CCS alumnus, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Rick Yarosh, who received severe burns while serving in Iraq, and aspiring young leader Pat Fish, who joined the group after seeing its program as a student in South Glens Falls, New York.
The 15-year running program offers what Murphy calls “the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying,” to schools, businesses, nonprofits, and civic groups across the country. After an initial presentation on the message of HOPE (Hold On, Possibilities Exist) and action, the group calls students to communicate in circles to build empathy and practice bully drills, the latter encouraging older students to pass their training down to younger classes. The program will return to practice these drills four more times this school year.
“We’re thrilled to be back in schools for the 2022-2023 school year, and we’re honored that our friends and colleagues in Cooperstown have invited us back to their district,” said Murphy, whose team also worked in the Cooperstown Central School District last March.
Murphy, alongside co-author Brian McKeon of Fort Worth, Texas, released “13 Pillows for Affective Teachers”—a novel that covers the themes of HOPE, empathy and action—in 2021. The book is available on Amazon. For more information on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit sweetheartsandheroes.com.