At Duanesburg Elementary School, students took a break from the books Monday.

Sixth graders worked alongside first graders in an effort to stop bullying. It's a process implemented by 'Sweethearts and Heros,' a group that focuses on teaching kids to be carriers of hope.

"We're getting them to show and practice and teach kindness," said presenter Tom Murphy. "And it's really hard for a kid to walk out of a classroom and shove someone or call them a name because they were just exercising some empathy muscles in their brain."

Students learned the message of hope from Rick Yarosh. It was a lesson he learned while serving as a U.S. Army sergeant. The wounded war veteran survived an explosion in Iraq in 2006. He suffered second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, and had his right leg amputated below the knee.

However, Yarosh sees it as a new purpose to life.

''I wouldn't trade my injuries," he said. "I say what you see is what you get. It's all on the outside for me. It took a while for me to understand that. It took a lot of people for me to understand that."

He shared with students that they need to find hope even in their darkest times.

"They're dealing with tough stuff, but if they don't hold on, they'll never find out the possibilities that exist for them," Yarosh said. "If I didn't hold on that day, I would've never found out the possibilities I have with these kids here."

"I believe in my heart all of those kids can become someone's hero; they just have to be taught how to do it," Murphy said.

To continue their efforts, the students will be practicing these drills twice a week over the next two months.