The news these days is often depressing at worst and frustrating at best. It’s easy to let it get us down. Never fear… The News Blender has you covered. Once a week we feature Something Good and, in return, all you have to do is tell us something good that has happened to you this week, something you are thankful for, a joke, a cute animal story, an inspiring tale of heroics, a Random Act of Kindness… SOMETHING good.
Today’s something good is encouragement, out of the mouths of babes.
An art project at West Side Union School in Healdsburg, California has gone viral, according to CBS Sunday Morning. Brainchild of teachers Asherah Weiss and Jessica Martin, Peptok is a free hotline that allows callers to hear a message of encouragement from students ages 5 – 12. (“Peptok” is how Jessica’s young son spelled “pep talk”.) As part of a project to show the power of art as a social conversation, the kids made motivational flyers to display around town and recorded advice and encouragement to be shared on the hotline.
When you call 707-998-8410 you will hear a message with a menu of options to choose from. “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 kindergarteners, press three. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press four.”
Jessica signed up for a cheap hotline service, thinking the kids would be thrilled if they got 100 calls in a month, from family and friends and people from the community. But after the hotline was launched on February 26, it quickly went viral, initially receiving 500 calls an hour, then two days later 700 an hour. They are now up to 9,000 calls per hour.
Patients in a nursing home in Iowa laughed with delight when the recorded messages were played for them. The administrator of the facility called the school to thank them for the hotline, saying she hadn’t heard the mostly 90-year-old residents laugh like that in years.
Cancer patients at Johns Hopkins medical center have been calling the hotline as well. Principal Rima Meechan heard from one woman who calls to listen to the uplifting messages during her cancer treatments.
Jessica was inspired by her students’ resilience and positive attitudes during these difficult times – on top of just being kids, they have endured wildfires and a pandemic.
She told NPR, “”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.” Jessica continued, “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.”
Among the gems offered by the students, is: “If you’re feeling up high and unbalanced, think of groundhogs.” “Be grateful for yourself,” one child says. Another child offers: “Bro, you’re looking great.”
The kindergartners shout, “You can do it! Keep trying! Don’t give up!”
Jessica said, “That this went viral is really testament that we all still have a lot of healing to do. And you know, with the current situation in Ukraine and all of the other terrors and sadness that we all carry, it’s really important that we continue to hold this light.”
Encouragement is Something Good, now more than ever. So are laughter and smiles and children’s joy. Now it’s your turn… tell me something good!