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If you’re feeling blue, or need a confidence boost, a group of students in California would like to have a word with you. Really.
Elementary school students in Healdsburg in northern California have recorded more than a dozen messages of encouragement, support and affirmation. To hear them, all you have to do is call their free hotline: 707-873-7862 (707-8-PEPTOC).
You’ll hear a menu of four options, plus options in Spanish: No. 1 if you’re mad, frustrated or nervous; No. 2 if you want to hear words of encouragement and life advice; No. 3 to hear a pep talk from kindergarteners; and No. 4 is the laughter of young children.
Our favorite is No 2.
Some of the messages are simple.
“Believe in yourself.”
“Dude, live it up!”
Others are a bit more profound.
“It’s OK to be different.”
“Be grateful for yourself.”
“The world is a better place with you in it.”
All of them are salve for tired souls and hurting hearts. With the pandemic dragging on, Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine getting worse and economic uncertainty keeping many people on edge, simple words of love, hope and support are sorely needed right now.
We don’t want to give away all their valuable advice, but here’s a taste of the students’ suggestions for what to do when you’re mad, frustrated or nervous.
“Take three deep breaths and think of things that make you happy.”
“Please do something you like. Do something that inspires you.”
Others suggested buying cookies, shoes — and ice cream.
The project is the brainchild of two art teachers — Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss — at West Side Elementary School in Healdsburg.
“We wanted to do a project that was going to be simple enough to do and call on kids to think about what they wanted to say in the world, to uplift other people,” Weiss told The Guardian, a British publication. “And as we all know, we’ve been going through a lot these last few years. So we wanted to do something really simple but profound.”
The students, aware of the difficult news in recent weeks, said coming up with good ideas was simple.
“It’s good to say nice things to people,” Rosalie, a fifth-grader, told The Guardian. “So I’d say a lot of things come into your head.”
The hotline, which is dubbed “peptoc” for how Martin’s first-grade son spelled “pep talk,” is proving very popular around the country, and the world. At the end of last week, it received 9,000 calls an hour. The project is funded through donations for the phone lines. The company providing the service said it would donate 1 million minutes of phone time. The service said it would cost $3,000 a month for the early March call volume.
According to The Guardian, Martin said staff and patients at Johns Hopkins medical center had been regularly calling the hotline and a woman with cancer calls during her treatments.
We can all use a boost now and then. So, to the students at West Side Elementary, we say: “The world is a better place with you in it.”