The kids at West Side Elementary in Healdsburg, Calif.,

handed out Peptoc hotline cards to help spread the word about the project

Amid a crush of heavy news from around the world, who couldn’t use some sage advice right now?

Call a new hotline, and you’ll get just that — encouraging words from a resilient group of kindergartners.

Kids’ voices will prompt you with a menu of options:

If you’re feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5.

Pressing 3 leads to a chorus of kids sounding off a series of uplifting mantras:

“Be grateful for yourself,” offers one student.

“If you’re feeling up high and unbalanced, think of groundhogs,” another chimes in.

“Bro, you’re looking great.”

Peptoc, as the free hotline is called, is a project from the students of West Side Elementary, a small school in the town of Healdsburg, Calif.

It was put together with the help of teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss. Martin, who teaches the arts program at the school, says she was inspired by her students’ positive attitudes, despite all they’ve been through — the pandemic, wildfires in the region and just the everyday challenges of being a kid.

“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,” she said.

Martin said she spoke with her class about the idea of art as a kind of social practice, a conversation to contribute to the world — and something we can all learn from.

“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,” she said.

Martin says she hopes the hotline will give callers a little respite from whatever it is they’re going through, which — judging from the thousands of calls the hotline gets each day — is quite a lot.

Two days after launching the hotline on Feb. 26, she said they were up to 700 callers per hour.

“That this went viral is really testament that we all still have a lot of healing to do,” she said. “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.”

She said it’s also a testament to fostering the arts in schools, noting that West Side doesn’t have much of an arts program after a massive budget cut this year.

So the next time you need a little boost, dial Peptoc at 707-998-8410.

To help support the program’s hotline fees, you can click here to donate. Martin said that any surplus funds will go toward the school’s enrichment programs.

“a joy that is shared is a joy made double.”

-john roy



Jessica Martin, Asherah Weiss, West Side Elementary School

NPR, Hiba Ahmad and Hadeel Al-Shalchi, Emma Bowman 

106 responses »

  1. This is a marvelous story, Beth! You see this light and positivity each day in your classroom. Children see with eyes that have yet to be dimmed by life’s long bend. We need that reminder more than ever right now!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I called and chose option #2,…I lost count of everything shared…”don’t give up”, “choose weird!” , “make it count”, “we’re better together”, “we love you!”…seriously, I’m a mess with tears. Thank you, children and teachers of this project. 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: peptoc. – Flannel with Faith

  4. Reblogged this on Mike Powell and commented:
    If you are anything like me, the current situation in the world can’t help but bring you down. I really encourage you to read the entire posting that I have re-blogged and to call the PepToc phone number. The sound of the voices of children offering creative ways to deal with the stresses of life is guaranteed to lift your spirits.


  5. Sometimes, the cynicism we’ve gained with experience makes us forget to take a moment (or two) to look away from the heavy news and just think as a child. Just knowing that something like this exists and that the children of the future have such a positive outlook encourages my heart. I am going to re-blog this, and hopefully it will inspire others to develop a similar thing all over the country!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Who wouldn’t be cheered up when children are doing the cheering? I’m going to call, if only to hear one of them say “Bro.” Makes me smile just thinking about it. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Oh, and if you don’t mind, I think I’ll reblog too.


    • Oh, I wish it were my project, but I can’t lay claim to it, just sharing another teacher’s amazing initiative. I wanted to spread the word about their wonderful project


  7. Reblogged this on A Teacher's Reflections and commented:
    Children are inspiring with their sunny outlook on life. Hats off to the kindergartners in California who started a pep talk hotline, ‘peptoc’ for people to call in and get a dose of advice or some good vibes. Thank you to Beth for posting about their hotline. Read on!

    Liked by 1 person

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