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A Little Bit of Joy

A group of students found a way to spread happiness.

Photos by Jessica Martin and Asherah Weiss

Everyone needs some encouraging words sometimes. That’s why a group of students created the Peptoc Hotline, a phone number people can call to hear positive messages anytime they want.

The idea for the hotline came from Jessica Martin, an art teacher at West Side Elementary School in Healdsburg, California. Martin wanted to spread joy at a time when there are a lot of tough things going on in the world. So she recorded her students saying happy messages and set up the hotline. She also asked some students to make posters with uplifting messages, which she then hung up all over Healdsburg. Working on the project brought Martin’s students plenty of joy, and they hoped it would also bring happiness to others.

People who call the Peptoc Hotline can hear recordings of kids ranging in age from 5 to 12 saying things like, “Be you!” and “Live it up!” These messages are mini “pep talks,” short speeches meant to make others feel happier and more confident. In fact, the project was originally called the Pep Talk Hotline, but when Martin’s 6-year-old son wrote it down, he spelled it P-E-P-T-O-C. 

The hotline, which debuted on February 26, has been a huge success. It receives hundreds of calls every hour, according to Martin.

That’s a lot of joy.

Did You Know?

Five smiling children running on a beach and kicking a ball

© Alistair Berg—DigitalVision/Getty Images

Exercise and spending time with family and friends can help improve how we feel. This is because these activities cause the brain to release certain chemicals that affect our moods.

Five Ways to Improve Your Mood

A child draws a happy face on a yellow wall

© Flashpop—Stone/Getty Images


Go outside. Bright light helps to boost your mood, so get into the sunshine. But don’t forget sunscreen!


Get plenty of Zzzs. Sleep is important for your health. When you don’t get enough of it, you can feel pretty cranky!


Be kind. Did you know that doing something nice for someone else can make you feel good? It’s true!


Exercise. When you get moving, your brain releases chemicals that make you happier. So try a sport, take a walk, or just dance in your bedroom!


Talk it out. When you’re feeling sad or upset, talk to someone you trust, like an adult family member or a teacher. It can be good to share your feelings.

Four-Legged Friends

Scientists have found evidence that dogs can sense how we humans are feeling. There’s also evidence that spending time with pets can make people feel better!

© gamelover/

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Word of the Day


Part of speech:
Syllabic representation:



: energy or enthusiasm

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