COVID-19 halted Sweethearts & Heroes’ impactful, life-saving presentations at schools last year, but Tom Murphy, Sweethearts & Heroes co-founder, spent much of last spring and summer talking to: principals, superintendents, teachers, school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Murphy learned they share a common concern — that the social and emotional needs of students and teachers will be overwhelming this fall.
With that in mind, Murphy teamed with his co-presenter, Rick Yarosh, and a filmmaker to create the videos. “This series works well for all learning styles,” said Murphy, of St. Albans. “Our video courses meet many state guidelines, and they meet the social and emotional standards that schools must fulfill this fall. It’s our flagship message presented in a completely different way.”
When Vermont Agency Owner and General Agent Randy Raner heard about the video series, he immediately and enthusiastically signed on to help Sweethearts & Heroes. The Vermont Agency has previously partnered with Murphy to help spread Murphy’s message in Vermont.
“When Tom mentioned he was working on this video series our teams immediate response was, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘How can we assist?’” state Raner. He continued, “In the past The Agency has partnered with specific schools to bring this message of H.O.P.E.to the classroom. This year, with this message perhaps more important than ever, we wanted to broaden our reach and open it up to even more schools and classrooms. We encourage teachers, guidance counselors, and parents to reach out about how The Vermont Agency can support it being offered to their schools.”
Raner added, “Our foundation was formed with the mission to dramatically impact the lives of children and the work that Sweetheart & Heroes does has a true, dramatic impact on our communities. The work Tom and his team do is something The Vermont Agency will continue to be proud to support for years to come.”
The video courses focus on (among other things) the emotional resiliency and empowerment that students will need as schools reopen; and Sweethearts & Heroes’ flagship message, which focuses on student empowerment, empathy activation and jumping into action to help others that are struggling. In addition, Yarosh, a retired sergeant with the U.S. Army — injured in Iraq with burns over most of his body — gives messages about overcoming adversity and turning negative situations into positive ones. There is a separate add-on for online bullying. Worksheets and other resources are available to schools, too. Schools can use Flipgrid to administer the program.
Sweethearts & Heroes has caught on nationwide because it emphasizes an action-based approach — going beyond awareness — to an issue that affects schools, neighborhoods and individuals. Murphy’s engaging, energetic and interactive presentation focuses on victims, bullies and the bystanders who can be empowered to make a difference. The crux of the Sweethearts & Heroes presentation, and all of the organization’s efforts, is a literal A-B-C approach to bullying.
Murphy calls Sweethearts and Heroes “the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying”; their message is about H.O.P.E. (Hold On Possibilities Exist) and “empathetic fitness.” Since 2011, he has presented Sweethearts & Heroes to more than 2 million students in the U.S. and Canada. He said COVID-19 would not stop students from learning Sweethearts & Heroes’ lessons during the upcoming school year.
“These videos can be used in the classroom, remotely, or on an individual basis with students to facilitate the conversation around the feelings of hopelessness — which have likely increased for many as a result of the pandemic — bullying, and other trauma-inducing challenges that our students face,” Murphy said. “We are extremely excited to get this message to as many schools as possible.”
The Vermont Agency was formed over 170 years ago as the first general agency of National Life Group. Offering a variety of financial services to business owners, professionals, individuals and their families, The Vermont Agency has over 200 financial professionals with offices in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Upstate New York. Since 2005, and with the help of countless volunteers and generous donors, more than $750,000 has been donated to local charities by The Vermont Agency Foundation. More information can be found at www.vermontagency.com or by finding us on Facebook.
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For more information on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit: sweetheartsandheroes.com.
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