TURIN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Over the last two years, the pandemic has caused social and emotional obstacles for students. To help local students navigate tough situations, a student empowerment and empathy activation team will be delivering their message to South Lewis Central Schools.

The team is called “Sweethearts and Heroes” and focuses on educating society on the impact of bullying, and building empathy and compassion in youth. The organization began with motivational speaking and has since evolved to offer online courses, space-repetitive youth programs, and written works.

The organization will bring its message to Turin on May 3 and will present its signature program to South Lewis students in all grade levels. The presentation focuses on “Empathetic Fitness” and HOPE which stands for “Hold On, Possibilities Exist!” with the aim of preventing bullying and suicide.

South Lewis middle school principal Judith Duppert said she looks forward to the organization sharing its message with local students.

“Many of our students have faced challenges as we’ve returned to full in-person instruction this school year,” Duppert said. “For the last two years, they have had limited interaction with their peers, and many will benefit from a refresh on appropriate social behavior. Our students have been resilient in spite of these challenges, and we look forward to providing them additional support through Sweethearts and Heroes.”

The presentation will be led by Tom Murphy who has presented their message to more than 2 million students in thousands of schools from New England to Hawaii. He explained the importance of talking to students about challenging topics.

“Just talking about awareness doesn’t fix anything,” Murphy said. “What separates us from other anti-bullying presentations and projects is that we give each student a plan to activate their innate superpowers to empower them to help others that are struggling with bullying or other challenges that all students face. Our message and strategies go way beyond bullying. We are about humanity, giving HOPE to the hopeless and making the world a better place.

Murphy will be joined by Rick Yarosh who is a retired sergeant with the U.S. Army. He was injured in Iraq with burns over most of his body, and he now gives messages about HOPE and overcoming adversity.

More information about the Sweethearts and Heroes can be found on the organization’s website.