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Sweethearts & Heroes assembly helps students and educators understand bullying

Hillside Elementary School was the recipient of a very special Sweethearts & Heroes program on the school's Unity Day. Sponsored by the PTSA, this special program was presented to small groups of students all day by former UFC Fighter Tom Murphy, and Rick Yarosh,Retired Sergeant with the U.S. Army who was severely injured by an IED in Iraq. Over 60 percent of Yarosh's body was burned and he had his right leg amputated. Students were surprised by his appearance but quickly took to him as he spoke about how every single person in the room was different. Unlike many discussions on bullying, their focus was on the power of every member of the community. 

The presenters shared kid-friendly definitions of the four attributes of bullying: 1) being mean or scary to someone, 2) over and over again, 3) on purpose, 4) to someone smaller or weaker.  They also taught the "A-B-C" action plan for dealing with bullies that included three superpowers- AWAY, BUDDY and CONFRONT. Students were chosen to act out these superpowers in a role-playing exercise with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Yarosh. The students watched closely as their peers, who got to wear a cape and mask-pretended to fly in and take a person Away, become a Buddy, and Confront the bully or call for help.  The Sweethearts & Heroes program delivered a message of bystander empowerment, empathy, and leadership. They created an awareness of what bullying is and how students can recognize it and help stop it.  


To learn more about the program, visit