Northwestern VT students activate HOPE with Sweethearts & Heroes family book event on 5/23 in Enosburg Falls

Pat Fish, of Sweethearts & Heroes

Pat Fish, of Sweethearts & Heroes

Vermont Business Magazine Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union students and educators will spend the remainder of this school year learning how they can keep spreading HOPE (Hold On, Possibilities Exist) in their classrooms — and beyond.

Pat Fish, of Sweethearts & Heroes, is working in the FNESU for three days a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) throughout this month and until June 7. Sweethearts and Heroes is a student empowerment and empathy activation team that aims to prevent hopelessness, bullying and suicide with a focus on the basic components of social-emotional learning (SEL).

Sweethearts & Heroes offers a profound, engaging signature presentation that calls for HOPE, Empathy and Action; Circle, which is built on the ancient ritual of communicating in a circle to build empathy; and the B.R.A.V.E. Youth Leadership Program, which trains older students in bully drills that they, in turn, teach to students in lower grades.

The Sweethearts & Heroes team is: Tom Murphy, Director and Founder, of St. Albans, VT; Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh, a HOPE expert, Purple Heart recipient and motivational speaker from New York who was burned severely while serving in Iraq; and Pat Fish, B.R.A.V.E. Program Director & Circle Specialist.

Since May 1, Fish has worked on the B.R.A.V.E. Program with FNESU students from Enosburgh, Sheldon, Berkshire, and Montgomery. B.R.A.V.E. stands for “16th Century” Bullies ‘Are’ Action-Based, Vulnerable and Empathetic. B.R.A.V.E. is a K-12, self-directed leadership program designed to connect middle and high school students with elementary students. B.R.A.V.E. uses the power of human connection, acceptance and behavior modeling to teach upper-level students how to become Sweethearts & Heroes. In turn, those upper-level students can teach elementary students — and each other — specific bully drills that will help change their school culture.

Additionally, the Enosburgh Public Library will play host to Fish on Thursday, May 23, at 5 p.m., for a free event about his new book of poetry, Boredom School: For Those Bored In School. The public is welcome, and students who attend will get a free copy of Boredom School. (Adults who want to buy Boredom School are encouraged to donate to a GoFundMe campaign that Fish established as a way to get free copies of the book to as many students as possible.)

As a presenter and program director with Sweethearts & Heroes, Fish has had the privilege of listening to students of all ages and backgrounds across the northeastern U.S. Boredom School is a testament to his ability to capture the essence of their experiences and convey it in a captivating and enjoyable way. Drawing inspiration from students’ encounters, Fish weaves together a collection of fun, silly and important poems that touch upon the themes of HOPE, Action and belonging. Every poem in this book is inspired by the perspectives of young people.

“I am so looking forward to hosting this event for our community families,” said Brenda Stanley, Enosburgh Librarian. “This will be a great opportunity to further the messages that Pat is sending in the schools and give parents a chance to learn more about this.”

During the last two school years, Sweethearts & Heroes has built a strong, effective bond with FNESU students and staff. Champlain Chevrolet has sponsored much of the organization’s past work in the district. COVID relief funds, with a focus on SEL priorities required in the grant, are supporting Fish’s B.R.A.V.E. work in FNESU.

For more than 16 years, Sweethearts & Heroes has presented what Murphy calls “‘the ‘stop, drop and roll’ of bullying” to more than 2.5 million students in school districts from New England to Hawaii and north into Canada. Sweethearts & Heroes also tailors its presentations and workshops for businesses, non-profits and civic groups. Murphy said, “We go where we’re needed. That’s what heroes do.”

Recently, Sweethearts & Heroes announced a joint effort with Spartan Race to create a new series of three-day Youth Leadership Summits. The inaugural event, which kicks off a nationwide initiative for Sweethearts & Heroes, is scheduled for Sept. 11-13 in Killington, VT.

Sweethearts & Heroes has also created The HOPE Classroom, a digital subscription service designed for various grade levels and different school sizes. This value-packed offering can allow Sweethearts & Heroes to be in every school in the U.S.

Sweethearts & Heroes’ other book, 13 Pillows For Affective Teachers, is a novel that covers the themes of HOPE, Empathy and Action in the Sweethearts & Heroes curriculum. 13 Pillows is  also based on real students and teachers that Sweethearts & Heroes has encountered. Murphy cowrote the book with Brian McKeon, of New York.

For more on Sweethearts & Heroes, visit their Web site, check out their Facebook page, or watch these short, impactful trailers:

On YouTube