HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Weber School District creates Happiness Hotline

May 19, 2022, 12:40 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:10 pm

ROY, Utah — Need a pick me up, life advice, or words of encouragement? Try calling the Happiness Hotline (833-88-HAPPY), a free resource created by students and faculty in the Weber School District.

“You’re hearing things about, like, you can do it, you can do hard things, believe you can and you’re halfway there,” said Rod Belnap, director of career and technical education for the district.

Belnap put the project into motion after hearing of a school in California with a pep-talk hotline.

“I thought maybe we could include our own teachers and students and get the recordings from our elementary school students,” he said.

Belnap enlisted the help of T.J.Bean, a visual arts teacher from Roy High School, who interviewed kindergartners and 1st graders from Farr West, Hooper, Lakeview, Midland, Municipal, and Pioneer elementary schools.

“I went to six different schools to talk to 80 different kids,” said Bean, “and what you hear on the happiness hotline is very much the condensed version of this. There is enough to do two or three happiness hotlines.”

Bean’s students at Roy High School separated the interviews into topics — words of encouragement, life advice, words of wisdom, and jokes.

“I could tell what we were doing was important, not just to the kids who were doing it, but to those who would be hearing it,” Bean said.

One of the children featured on the hotline is Gunnar Anderson, a first grader at Midland Elementary.

“You can call the hotline anytime you’re feeling sad or lonely,” Anderson said. “You can press whatever number and it might tell you a joke or something silly like one of my jokes!”

Anderson does share a cute joke about an interrupting cow on the hotline, but he also shares some life advice, too.

“All that matters is that you’re helping people,” he said. “I just taught that to myself. My brain told me that.”

Hadlie Bute, 7, is a student at Pioneer Elementary. She is also featured on the hotline, sharing advice on dealing with sadness.

“When I am mad or sad, I like to play with my, snuggle my stuffed animals and play with them and give my sisters a hug,” she said.

Kids of all ages are recognizing that words have power, and that sometimes you just need someone you can reach out to.

“It’s important so they can feel peaceful, too,” Bute said.

“All that matters is that you’re helping people,” Anderson said.

“Those are statements that are powerful, regardless of what age you are. They’re important at a young age, but they’re also important as an adult,” Belnap said.

The Happiness Hotline is already seeing success. In its first few weeks, the hotline received over 1,200 calls, with some callers staying on the line for multiple minutes.

“The resounding message is a message of encouragement and hope,” Belnap said. “And there are times kids and adults need those messages, and so we hope that people find it inspiring.”

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Weber School District creates Happiness Hotline