Anyone who has the delight of children in their lives in one form or another will agree: kids say the cutest things. Most adults know that functioning as a productive member of society usually requires thinking about what they want to say before actually saying it, which makes kids’ lack of filter such a refreshing, hilarious, and at times a somewhat inappropriate source of entertainment and joy.
Recognizing the power of children’s words, West Side Union Elementary School in Healdsburg, California decided to create an emotional support hotline featuring the voices of their students to encourage those in their community and across the country.
The Peptoc Hotline
The “Peptoc Hotline” (the name, which of course should be Pep Talk, was adorably misspelled on a flyer by one of the six-year-old participants) offers callers pre-recorded messages of encouragement and was launched through the school’s website on February 26.
When people who feel down call the hotline at 707-998-8410, they hear a few prompts in both English and Spanish to help direct them to the messages that best match their circumstances:
“If you’re feeling mad, frustrated, or nervous, press one. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press two. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press three. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5.”
No matter which option a caller chooses, they are sure to be uplifted by the youthful voices. Some of the messages include:
- “If you’re frustrated, you can always go to your bedroom and punch a pillow or cry on it or go scream outside.”
- “If you’re nervous, go get your wallet and spend it on ice cream and shoes.”
- “Be grateful for yourself.”
- “If you’re frustrated… go jump on a trampoline.”
- “Just breathe, you can do it.”
Jessica Martin, a local artist and art teacher at West Side Union Elementary kickstarted the hotline as a public art project that would support and raise the spirits of people, after the heaviness of the past couple of years.
“I thought, you know, with this world being as it is, we all really needed to hear from them— their extraordinary advice and their continual joy,” Martin told NPR. “Their creativity and resourcefulness is something that we need to emulate because that level of joy and love and imagination is what’s going to save us in the end.”
The power of positivity
The hotline was a great success and apparently needed, as it went viral in less than a week and received between 300 and 500 calls an hour and as many as 5,000 calls daily. The kids’ mini-pep talks are a valuable way of bolstering mood. They are also a good reminder that adopting a joyful mindset and cultivating a positive self-talk practice is a great way of supporting your own mental health for free.
The school hopes to keep the hotline running until at least the end of the school year with the help of outside funding. If you’d like to support the cause, you can donate here.