Golding students learn about activating HOPE

Golding students learn about activating HOPE
Posted on 02/09/2023
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An amazing squad of superheroes without capes visited Golding Middle School to show students and educators how they can spread HOPE (Hold On, Possibilities Exist!) in the classroom and beyond.

Sweethearts & Heroes, a student empowerment and empathy activation team that aims to prevent bullying and suicide with a focus on social-emotional health, spent the day at Golding on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

The Sweethearts & Heroes team includes Tom Murphy, director; Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh, a HOPE expert and motivational speaker who was burned severely while serving in Iraq; and Pat Fish, an aspiring young leader who first saw Sweethearts & Heroes as a student in South Glens Fall.

Sweethearts & Heroes offers: a profound, engaging signature presentation calling for HOPE, empathy and action; Circle, which is built on the ancient ritual of communicating in a circle to build empathy; and BRAVES Buddies, which trains older students in bully drills.

“We’re thrilled to be working in New York schools for the 2022-2023 school year, and we’re honored that our friends and colleagues in Cobleskill invited us to their district,” said Murphy. “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 in Cobleskill is crucial.

Murphy and Yarosh provided students with their signature presentation, calling for HOPE, action and empathy, and Fish co-facilitated Circles. (Learn more about circle at

“Circle is an opportunity for amazing stories to be shared and heard,” says Fish, leader of Sweethearts & Heroes’ Circle and BRAVES Buddies programs. “Amazing isn’t good or bad. Some amazing stories I’ve heard are heartbreaking, others are heartwarming, and others are downright hilarious, but every single one of us has an amazing story, because we all have unique experiences. Circle allows everyone the chance to share those stories and more importantly, practice listening, so we can learn others’ amazing stories. Also, there are various social-emotional skills practiced by all in Circle. What sets us apart? We make it fun! Everywhere we go, there’s a thirst for Circle from students of all ages, social groups and backgrounds. They want to connect further with the people around them. Circle is the vehicle for that.”

For more than 15 years, Sweethearts & Heroes has presented what Murphy calls the “stop, drop and roll of bullying” to more than 2 million students in school districts from New England to Hawaii. Murphy, Yarosh and Fish also tailor their presentations and workshops for businesses, nonprofits and civic groups. Murphy said “We go where we’re needed. That’s what heroes do.”
The Sweethearts & Heroes presentation and Circle group sessions were made possible by the Cobleskill-Richmondville Education Foundation.

For more information on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit: