Sweethearts & Heroes to teach Monessen students impacts of bullying | TribLIVE.com
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Megan Tomasic

Jason Spector, Rick Yarosh and Tom Murphy have one goal in mind when they pull up to a school — to empower kids and teachers to put an end to bullying.

Through the organization Sweethearts & Heroes, the trio travels across the United States to show students the impact bullying has on individuals, schools and neighborhoods.

“Just talking about awareness doesn’t fix anything,” Murphy said in a release “What separates us from other anti-bullying presentations and projects is that we have the plan to curb and even stop bullying in your school, or wherever it exists for you. But we go beyond bullying. We are about humanity, giving H.O.P.E. to the hopeless and making the world a better place.”

According to the release, the message the group conveys is “Hold On, Possibilities Exist.”

Across the United States, one in every five kids is bullied, according to StopBullying.com, a site that provides information on bullying from various government agencies.

In a 2017 survey of Pennsylvania students, about 22 percent said they were bullied on school property, and about 17 percent said they were cyberbullied.

Sweethearts & Heroes will visit the Monessen City School District on April 3. The group will work with teachers and staff at all schools, followed by presentations at the schools, including the Monessen Elementary Center. A presentation for parents will end the day.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Murphy is a former professional mixed martial arts fighter and Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran. Business experience as the owner of Twiggs, a gastropub in St. Albans, Vt., and former owner of a 15,000-square-foot fitness center helped him when founding Sweethearts & Heroes with Spector.

Spector is an educator and coach in Glens Falls, N.Y., and a former fighting competitor of Murphy’s.

Yarosh is a retired Army sergeant. After an injury in Iraq left him with burns over most of his body, he began speaking about overcoming adversity and making a negative situation positive.

Started in 2011, Sweethearts & Heroes has been presented to more than 1 million students in schools across the country, with special programs tailored for businesses, colleges, universities and camps.

Inspired by an Albert Einstein quote, Spector said, “The world is a dangerous place not because of those who choose to do evil, but because of those who choose to do nothing about it.”

“Bullying isn’t the problem. Bullies have been around forever. The problem is we don’t have enough sweethearts and heroes in the world.”

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