Thanks to Trevor Noah (go to 6:00), NPR and countless others for reporting on this beautifully Great Idea from West Side Elementary in Healdsburg, CA.

Teachers Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss – inspired by the extraordinary optimism of their students (who have lived through the pandemic, regional wildfires, and everyday challenges) – invited the kids to create positive messages through art. The posters, including pictures, “free wishes”, and words of advice and inspiration, were posted around town on light posts, billboards, and an art installation at the school.

They then asked the students to record their words of wisdom – and created a call-in hotline for people feeling stressed, overwhelmed, fatigued, or grief-stricken. The PepToc hotline went viral, with several hundred calls received every hour.

Your young people could create the exact same thing!

  • Invite kids to draw or write their own encouraging or inspiring posters. Include the hotline number on the posters.
  • Hang the poster around town in high-traffic areas: schools, grocery stores, busy intersections, etc.
  • Record their young voices reading their own words of wisdom/hope/encouragement.
  • Break recordings into categories, such as:
    • “for those feeling frustrated, made, or nervous
    • for those needing encouragement or life advice
    • for those needing a pep talk
    • for those who want to hear kids laughing with delight”
  • Create a call-in hotline.
  • Share the phone number in bulletins, on all your social media, and invite the newspaper to write an article to spread the word.

You could even turn this into a live, in-person moment of joy by turning Children’s Time in worship or Sunday school time into an intergenerational Q & A session a la Kids Say the Darndest Things.

Let the joy resound!!!