2020 PeaceMaker Thank You!

Dear Amazing Principals and Peacemaker Liaisons,

Hello from home! Thinking of you all, and hoping you and yours are doing well. Missing you so much, and so grateful to you for making this such an important and special Peacemaker Year for everyone. Now that the world is sheltering in place, Peacemakers are needed more than ever, right in their own families and communities. Thank you for all you have done to make that possible throughout the year at school, and for everyone at home now, as well. 

In celebration of you all, all of us Peacemaker Trainers at Soul Shoppe (myself, Arek Bryant and Jill Brittner), have created this thank you email below, complete with end-of-year celebration videos from each of us, to acknowledge the incredible work your Peacemakers have done. Even though it is not possible to have year-end celebrations with Party in A Box at your schools, we hope these videos are fun, engaging and useful for your entire amazing Peacemaker crew!
A couple things to note:
• We designed our videos to shower them with gratitude, and empower them with tools for Peacemaking at home with their families…and we hope you enjoy them too!

• We have also included a link for them to join the weekly activity, games and contest emails with SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. If you and your own families are not  yet on the list, you can join HERE. We hope you love!
So looking forward to hearing from you. And, hoping your end of year is wrapping up beautifully, despite these most unusual and challenging times.
From all of us at Soul Shoppe…we love and appreciate you so much.

You are AMAZING!!!!

😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe

Dear Wonderful Peacemakers,

Hello!! Missing you all!! Thinking of you, and hoping you and your loved ones are all well and safe at home.

• Normally at this time of year, you would be having your End-of-Year Peacemaker Party with your Principal and Peacemaker Liaisons. Since that is not possible this time, we Peacemaker Trainers have a little something for you, by video instead.  Whether you had Dara, Arek or Jill as your Peacemaker Trainer this year, all three of our vidoes are for ALL of you, below…and your entire family, too! 🙂

• Also, for those of you who don’t know about this fun thing happening…we invite you and your whole family to join the awesome weekly games and contests that are going on at SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. Join HERE. We hope you love!

Arek shares stories and useful home practices for CHECKING IN WITH FAMILY, to help everyone get along wonderfully well. 

Jill and some adorable friends share the benefits of DROPPING YOUR STORY, to help people (and puppets!) get back to peace and fun at home.

Before you watch the next video,
grab some paper and things to draw and color with! Dara shows how to make your very own PEACEMAKER CELEBRATION CERTIFICATE, plus how to set up a Peacemaking Station or Peace Corner for the whole family to use and enjoy.

Whatever grade you are in, whatever peacemaking you have done, and whatever peace you continue to bring into the world, we are so proud of each and every one of you.  You have worked so hard, with so much courage, dedication and love. You make this world a more beautiful, happy and peace-filled place for everyone.

Thank you, Peacemakers!!!!!

😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe
20th Anniversary Celebration

We want to send you gratitude for being part of our community. 

At our celebration, we heard the voices of our AMAZING student peacemakers. We listened as our educators spoke to the deep transformation that happens in a school’s community over years of working with Soul Shoppe. And… we had a ton of fun dancing and winning fantastic prizes! 

Just this week, a parent sent a donation with a note about Soul Shoppe’s positive impact on their family and home:

“Our 7yr-old matured in just a few sessions more than he did through most of virtual learning and has taught the methods in our household. Inspiring!”

Yes, we are INSPIRED!

We crunched some numbers… over these 20 years, we’ve supported 7,500 parents and 18,000 teachers to be empathetic adult role models for our next generation.

We have delivered over 48,000 workshops to schools… which for those of you who have seen our work means we have hit the play button on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” 48,000 times 🙂

We have worked directly with over 560,000 individual kids, some of whom are now grown up… paying taxes, voting, and beginning their careers.

Of course it is our community (you!) who enables us to continue our work. You. Are. Amazing!

We’ve listed a few incredible ways you can take action to help Soul Shoppe launch into the NEXT 20 YEARS of big-hearted school programs.

  1. Donate! We’ve raised $14,750 towards our June 30 goal of $20,000! We are SO close to our goal. If you’d like to help us close the gap with a donation, please click here to support.
  1. Record a short video! Please let us know why you love Soul Shoppe! Record a 30-60 second video about our impact on your life! Click here to record your video!
  1. Connect us to more schools! Maybe your friends’ kid is starting at a new elementary school and you suggest they look into Soul Shoppe. Or… maybe you are at a barbecue and someone mentions they work in the local school district? This is a GREAT opportunity to tell them about Soul Shoppe, and maybe connect us all over email.
  1. Share our content online. We put a lot of work into our newsletter and social media efforts. Please spread the Soul Shoppe love by sending to friends and family! Good goes around when we all pitch in and engage when we are able.

Thank you again for what YOU have done to make our 20 years a success, and the next 20 years a reality!

5 Days of Fun!⠀

Here at Soul Shoppe, we believe that good goes around. That’s why we wanted to keep the good times rolling with more exciting events and innovative programs especially designed to help kids and adults navigate these challenging times. 

November’s event was 5 Days of Fun!, a virtual recess series that brought together hundreds of kids every day. We want to express our deepest gratitude to the kids and adults who joined us to throw down some fresh beats, laugh it up, dance out our affirmations, and take an inside look at our emotions. Thank you for helping us spread joy and infuse the school day with more fun!

Recess gives kids the chance to flex their imaginations, develop complex social relationships, and consolidate the lessons they’re learning – not to mention get their wiggles out! But with distance learning, it can be hard to find the time to design activities that will genuinely engage your students.

Our facilitators will drew on kids’ real world skills to ground them in their physical environment and foster genuine connection with their classmates so they can continue to thrive whether they’re in the classroom or at home.

As countless studies show, that 15 minute midday break can mean the difference between academic breakthroughs and mid-lesson meltdowns. Kids aren’t designed to sit still, let alone stare at a computer screen for five hours a day. That’s why recess is more important now than ever! ⠀

Stay tuned for the highlights reel and read on to learn more about how Soul Shoppe is adapting to these uncertain times to help your kids thrive.

Around the Shoppe

After Stoneman Douglas, making NEVER AGAIN a reality…

In the wake of the shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School, we at Soul Shoppe must confess a painful truth. We have been stunned, paralyzed and silent, wondering what else there is to say that hasn’t already been said. How could we contribute to lasting healing and change? But as we watched our young people say, “Never Again” and rise up to use their voices, we finally found ours. Two letters follow: one to young people and one to adults.


Dear Young People

We’re sorry. We, the adults in this country, have failed you in so many ways. When you were born, you looked to the adults in your world to meet your needs, to feed you, clothe you, keep you safe and give you love. We have not done our job (keeping you physically and emotionally safe) leaving you the task of doing that for yourselves.

We have created communities where a young person can feel isolated, depairing, and in such pain that they could inflict so much violence around them.  Although we know the cycle of violence and how pain can be turned into healing when it is met with empathy, we did not respond to your cries for help.

As you stand up in larger and larger numbers, demanding action and accountability to keep our schools and all communities safe, you inspire us. We recognize that in our inaction, in our growing cynicism coupled with increasing numbness, we grew to believe that nothing could be done. Or maybe that we were doing all we could.

You shouldn’t have to do this. We don’t want you to wonder if you and your friends are safe at school. Taking your time to advocate to reduce weapons in our communities. We don’t want you to plan marches in order for people to notice what’s wrong— and that your voices matter–and that the time is now.

The power in your voice has been evident since the moment you started speaking as a child. Your leadership is an asset.  We see you in communities planning innovative ways to raise your voices as well as speak truth to your power. And connecting to each other across geographic and racial divisions. We will surround you with all the love and care you need. As adults, we will be true allies and use our own power–our skills, our resources, our access–to shine more light on your brilliance.

We promise to do right by you.

In Solidarity,
Soul Shoppe

Dear Adults

We must have the backs of our young people in our schools, in our communities and in our homes. Let’s recognize the voices of our young people for they are always the best authorities on their own experience. Let’s listen deeply to what they say and then take action. Here are some suggestions on where to start:

  • Learn to listen with an open heart and mind. Sometimes it’s challenging to listen. We have opinions, ideas, and so much advice! Our young people need our listening, not our judgment or feedback. Cultivate our listening by taking a moment to slow down so we can truly hear. We might be surprised by what we learn. Emma Gonzalez Opens Up

  • Create safe spaces at home to talk about and work through conflict.  Use I-Messages and learn how to clean things up when our words or actions have caused hurt.

  • Intervene in the persistent stereotype of young people as problems to be solved and break the cycle of adultism. Name and change our own participation in adultist behaviors.

  • Recognize when we are numbing out, overloaded or unable to be our full selves. Tap on someone else to carry the load until we are fully charged again. Model self-care so that this rising generation of activists will have the tools to thrive as activists in the long term.

  • Have the backs of our young people as they lead and plan actions around the country. Become informed about student rights.  Show our full support of their voices by joining them and following their lead through the March for Our Lives Petition and March for Our Lives on Saturday, March 24th.

Every day at Soul Shoppe, we witness brave, powerful young people who step into their vulnerability, share their experience and then receive the empathy and love of their classmates. We watch them stand up with courage and speak out, and as a result they inspire us. At the core of what we do is a commitment to be open and vulnerable, therefore having our young people move us with what they have to share. It’s time for all of us to stretch ourselves and have the same courage our young people are demonstrating. We promise to support these young leaders and their teachers, and to amplify their efforts as they show us how to create big-hearted communities where everyone belongs.

In Solidarity,
Soul Shoppe

Around the Shoppe

Soul Shoppe Partners with

Over the next 8 weeks, Soul Shoppe is partnering with to help raise awareness about the impact that labeling has on people. Every week, will post a video with a Soul Shoppe staffer who tells their own story about labels. Personal stories like the ones you’ll hear in the coming weeks are an integral part of Soul Shoppe workshops.

Telling your story is important. It can help start a conversation or even start a process of healing. Someone hearing your story might be inspired to speak up, too.  Check out this week’s story here.

Got Soul Shoppe?

Are you thinking about bringing Soul Shoppe’s award winning programs to your school? Get in touch! Contact us for more information or to book for the 2018-19 school year. Find out what others have to say about the impact our programs have had.

Big-Hearted Revolution Starts Today!!! VOTE.

 VOTE TODAY to join the Big-Hearted Revolution!

Spread the message of empathy and understanding! We can create a Big-Hearted Revolution by voting for Vicki Abadesco to speak at Wisdom 2.0. It is more than a talk. It is an EXPERIENCE!

Vicki is one of the Founders of Soul Shoppe, a non-profit focused on teaching social-emotional learning and conflict resolution in elementary and middle schools. Through Wisdom 2.0, Vicki will give leaders and changemakers the Soul Shoppe interactive, immersive experience.

Give Wisdom 2.0 conference goers the EXPERIENCE of EMPATHY. Understand what is blocking us from treating each other with kindness and compassion every day.


Centering Black Voices

The truth is we are all equal…
The reality is we are not.
~Dr. Leticia Nieto

Sweet community,

In the history of Soul Shoppe, our Black and African-American staff have experienced racism – from being questioned about their purpose on campus from both staff and parents, to racist remarks from teachers, to the dismissal of comments and feedback.

When forming a response to the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, here’s what our staff have to say.

What do we want our young people to learn during this time?

A seed can only produce that from which it comes. What seeds are we planting into the minds and hearts of our young people? We have to be sure the fertile hearts and minds of our children are sown with love, peace and respect for all humans, if we ever hope to produce a world that bears the same.

Soul Shoppe teaches kids to Stop & Breathe in the face of fiery feelings, but we also know things happen in our communities that make it much harder for People of Color to breathe than others. This systemic oppression has a direct impact on the students we serve.  

We are an organization that facilitates essential tools of the heart, such as mindfulness, empathy, restoration, and “anti-bullying”.

In October, we shared the definition of bullying:  Bullying involves a power differential, has occurred consistently at least three times, and is intentionally meant to hurt or harm at least one of the individuals or communities involved.

What happened to George Floyd and continues to happen to the Black community is beyond bullying, it is a revolting and repulsive display of hostility and disregard for human life and goes against everything our organization believes in and teaches. 

In the Stop & Breathe tool, we take the moment to 

  • exercise our power to STOP and

  • allow one another the rights to BREATHE as a living human being

  • to THINK as an individual then

  • CHOOSE to unite on one peaceful accord  

  • to ACT in the best interest of the entire human race.

We invite you to embrace any or all parts of our Stop & Breathe tool throughout the coming weeks to enhance your choices and actions. 

We stand with our African AMERICAN citizens in defeating the ongoing oppression, unfair treatment, and social injustice to bring love, compassion, understanding and dignity to all. 

With deep care,

The Soul Shoppe Staff


Check Us Out in Alameda Magazine!

“Helping Kids Tame Their Inner Dragon”

We were featured in Alameda Magazine for our work with Frank Otis!

Here’s a snippet of the article:

“On a recent Wednesday morning at Alameda’s Frank Otis Elementary, animated fourth-graders were seemingly spellbound by what they were learning. Many of them were also grinning ear to ear or laughing. The students were having so much fun that you’d hardly imagine that the lesson of the day was a topic many adults often find a bit painful and daunting to talking about: how to cope with the very messy feelings of anger, irritation, annoyance, and frustration that can cause you to blow up and lash out.

But instead of solemn or embarrassed faces, it was all joy and excitement as the guest speaker, Anthony Jackson, a facilitator for the Soul Shoppe program, taught kids to recognize their own emotions and their impact on others. He coached students on how to wrestle with the build-up of emotions that can overwhelm kids, from sadness and anger to irritation and loneliness, comparing them to a balloon that could burst if you don’t pay attention to what’s inside.

‘The balloon is a place inside of us where we put our feelings we don’t know what to do with,’ Jackson explained. ‘They are not bad or wrong feelings. They are just feelings. And if we don’t take care of them, they come out on someone else.’ ”

Want to read the full article? Read more here!

Creating Bully-Free Classrooms

Many schools already have some excellent anti-bullying and community-building practices, but these can be overly compartmentalized, occurring only at specific times of day. Emotions are happening all the time!

Here are some things educators can do to fill the gaps:

  • Create multiple opportunities for class meetings or class moments where everyone has a voice and everyone gets to be seen.
  • Create school structures so that adults at our schools are easily available for young people, where they have the time and the emotional space to give young people their full attention and empathy.
  • Create time for teachers and adults at school to reflect, to notice if kids are being excluded and to work to create inclusion throughout the day.
  • Build the critical skills of empathy and community within our kids.
  • Model empathy and self-management skills. Kids learn from the example of the adults around them.
Every Cent Helps

Did you know?

You can support Soul Shoppe every time you use your Amazon Prime account? All you have to do is:

  1. Sign in to your Prime account using
  2. Select Soul Shoppe Programs as the organization you want to support.
  3. Remember to use when you shop.

Details about Amazon Smile are here.

Get Your Change On! Recap

In order to become a change-maker, you must first learn to adapt to change in a healthy way.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment — although change is necessary, it can also be extremely difficult.

It can cause our emotional balloons to fill up and be on the verge of leaking.

It can cause us to seek comfort in ways that are harmful to ourselves.

It can even cause us to have a negative outlook every time we are approached with something new.

But here is a reminder that how you adapt to change depends on how you react to change.

Read that again.

If we dig deep, lean into our resiliency and approach change with a curious mind, we can face big changes with more confidence, we can build better habits to manage uncertainty and most importantly, we can manage difficult emotions and empty our emotional balloons.

Then change not only becomes possible, it becomes fun!

And who doesn’t love fun?

In this month’s community event, we explored many healthy ways to cope with change that leave us feeling comforted, energized, and excited to move forward with the unexpected.

Get Your Change On! was a truly transformational experience where we played fun games, shared insightful stories, and even shook a tail feather!

Don’t just take our word for it! Check out this exciting recap video from Dr. Pooch:

Get Your Change On! centered on creating an open and safe space to hold important conversations around change and learn different ways to adapt, express emotions, and approach change differently in the future.

… and as you know, change is something we will have to constantly deal with it.

Something that has definitely shifted in the lives of our kiddos and even adults, is that there are now many conversations being had or shared in the media around the differences in the world — differences in cultures, race, and status. These conversations are far from easy but they are so necessary to have so that we can strive and hope for a future filled with community and compassion…

… a future where we can recognize and appreciate all differences.

The harsh reality is that when we recognize differences, we are forced to change how we look at the world.

And frankly, if you don’t know where to start with that shift, change can feel really scary and that’s okay.

Here at Soul Shoppe, we take pride in honoring, recognizing, and appreciating all the things that make each of us unique. Now, we want to share that same outlook with you and your kiddos.

We invite you to join Respect Differences, an on-demand course where kids are guided through lessons that will help them build up their self-esteem so that they can show more empathy toward people with ideas, appearances, likes, and dislikes different from their own.

This can ignite a beautiful change in our hearts, our lives, and our communities.

And that’s a change we’d love to see!

Interested in learning more about Respect Differences? Click the button below for more information!


Now, we want to know what you thought of our virtual event. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click here to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback!


Keep up with the latest at Soul Shoppe by signing up for our newsletter! 

In this monthly email, we provide you with the tools and resources to help your kids learn how they can embody and express their truths. We’ll also share upcoming events and other opportunities to engage with Soul Shoppe’s rich community of educators on a deeper level. Simply sign up below.

Gifts, Giggles & Goodness

Soul Shoppe’s virtual holiday celebration – Gifts, Giggles & Goodness – made it an incredible week for us. We hit record numbers of participants with well over 1200 kids joining in over the course of 3 days! 

Together we got crafty with homemade holiday gifts, giggled in more ways than we could count, and shared how small acts of kindness can make a big difference. Thanks to all who participated, our days have been a whole lot more joyous and bright.

The Good Goes Around! All it takes is one small act of kindness to turn someone’s day around and light up their face with a smile. Our big-hearted facilitator Ryan taught us to get creative with crazy gifts and how we can practice more kindness to spark joy this season. Our big-hearted facilitator Dara helped us get our giggles out!

Now we want to know what you thought of our virtual events this year. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click the button below to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback.

We wish you lots more laughter, love, and joy this holiday season, and look forward to seeing you again on Zoom in the new year!

Join our “The Power of Allyship” 3-Part Lesson Series

Dear Soul Shoppe Community,

Thank you again to the 300+ kids and families who showed up for our Live Lesson last Monday to talk about racism.

Conversations about racism are hard and we are grateful that so many of you are willing to lean in to talk, listen, share and learn together! Together we are better!

We took a big step by participating in an initial session… and there’s so much more we can experience together. We invite you to join our 3-part “The Power of Allyship” series for more conversation, sharing and supporting.

What is “The Power of Allyship” series?

With the big events around racial justice taking place in our country, young people may feel confused and fearful. How do we supply them with the tools they need to grow in healthy ways? Young people are observant and need supportive context and expressive outlets. In this three-part series, children will have a chance to express their feelings, think about relevant actions, and take a stand as allies with one another. This is a powerful way for families to begin and deepen their conversations around racism.

Appropriate for ages 5-12 years old, though all are welcome! Even if you missed a lesson, you can still join. Recordings will be sent when you register so you can catch up.


Session 1: The Power of Allyship, Thursday, June 18 from 1:30-2:15

Session 2: Raising Youth Voices, Thursday, June 25 from 1:30-2:15

Session 3: Standing Together, Thursday, July 2 from 1:30-2:15

Each live session will have a digital follow up activity for the family to continue the learning at home together.

Please join Soul Shoppe co-founders vicki abadesco! and Joseph Savage and big-hearted facilitators Arek Bryant and Anthony Jackson as we continue the conversation with young people about racism, protests, allyship and belonging.

We are offering this 3-part special series for young people and families on a sliding scale from $20-$100.  

Join here.

Kids Say The Smartest Things Recap

Thank you for attending Soul Shoppe’s virtual game show, Kids Say the Smartest Things!

We had a blast sharing superhero trivia and imitating animal sounds, talking about polar bears and playground problems, but more importantly: your kids had a lot of wise insights to share.

They showed us how to navigate tough conversations, how to face overwhelming emotions, how to stand up to peer pressure, and much, much more. All this just goes to show that kids have innate peacemaking and problem solving skills. We adults could probably learn a thing or two!

Thanks to your little ones and their profound kid wisdom, we feel that we have a much brighter future ahead of us. 

Now we want to know what you thought of our virtual events this year. Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, or a school administrator, we’d love to hear from you so we can continue to improve our programs to best serve your kids and students. 

Simply click the button below to take a very brief survey (only 3 questions!) and give us your feedback.

If you missed out, we’ll be sharing the recap video soon.

Peacemaker Spotlight

This month, we’re celebrating Kirstin
Lenane, Counselor and Peacemaker
Liaison at Westlake Elementary.

See her video below!

Soul Shoppe on the Radio – 94.1 KPFA

Host Timothy Regan welcomes you to learn peacebuilding skills along with the people and stories of Soul Shoppe – our own Bay Area peacebuilding children’s educational fun-team!  This nonprofit teaches healthy relationship and conflict management skills to thousands of children K-8th grade every year, with colorful, fun events.

Soul Shoppe team members Anthony Jackson and Paul Himmelstein share stories and demonstrate what we all needed to learn in grammar school – simple, powerful, reliable skills to understand ourselves and eachother, and to handle conflict so we can thrive together.

Soul Shoppe is a Bay Area nonprofit with a beautiful VISION: “A world where respect and empathy are the norm, and every child can thrive and shine!”  Their MISSION is:  “to create safe learning environments that bring forth a culture of compassion, connection and curiosity—eliminating bullying at the roots.”

Spring Clean Up

Let’s talk about mistakes.The big messy juicy mistakes–both the words we say and the ones we don’t. The places where we are not our best selves or the moments we wish we could do over. We are going to make mistakes. People are not born to be perfectionists, we are born to take risks, to try and to fail. We are, after all, human. So let’s admit that we all make messes.

We live in a world where we are told that faster is better. But in living out that value, we miss things; we miss people, and we don’t think we can slow down. We deliberately don’t attend to something we see. Or we tell ourselves that we will return to that person later when we have time, though that time never comes. In some cases faster is better, but that is rarely true for a human connection with someone. Building empathy and trust takes time. And moving quickly in our relationships with people can create confusion, hurt and misunderstanding. Fortunately, there is a way to genuinely repair the mistakes we will inevitably make with others.

At Soul Shoppe, we use the Clean-Up as a guide for young people to navigate through those mistakes. The Clean-Up is a five-step process focused on repairing harm. It starts with recognizing the harm that was caused, feeling the impact of it, and apologizing. When we understand the hurt from an action or behavior we were part of, we naturally want to learn what we could do instead and make a commitment to do things differently next time. The process ends with asking for forgiveness.

Why’s it’s Hard to Say Sorry

Young people are initially reluctant to use the Clean-Up. They sometimes have had the experience of being pushed into saying “sorry” before they actually feel that way. Or they’re told they won’t get in trouble if they tell the truth when we know there will be consequences. In these situations, young people feel blame and shame and rarely get to the important process of experiencing empathy, apologizing and making it right. When we have the intention to make it right and the willingness to listen, so much more connection and compassion is available. And the next time we make a mistake (and there will be a next time), we know we have a tool to help us clean it up rather than keep us separated.

The Clean-Up gives us a way to build connection, and through admitting our mistakes, it gives us access to our own power. We recognize that we have power to impact the people around us, to repair relationships and to understand that our mistakes can be part of our growth. When we frame young people’s mistakes positively as part of the way they’re powerful, it helps them build self-esteem rather than focusing on how they’re “bad.” It gives them more freedom in their lives.

As adult allies, we can be role models to show young people what it looks like when we take responsibility for the hurt we have caused. Is there a young person or adult in your life you could do a Clean-Up with? Someone you know you hurt or missed? This level of honesty and courage is what our young people are longing for. Try it on and see what happens in your relationships. It’s time for some Spring Clean-Up!

Summer Resources

Summertime is here and we realize it’s a different kind of summer. There is a constant urgency in our world. We feel concern and outrage for children and families. We see what happens when government policy lacks compassion. For some Americans, these policies and practices are all too familiar. For others, it’s an awakening. Our hearts ache knowing that people who need our help are instead treated with no regard for their basic humanity. We know that the damage being done to parents and children is devastating. We are inspired by the protests and creative acts of kindness and resistance from across the country. The practices of empathy and compassion are more important than ever, not only in our legislative policies, but in all our circumstances.

It’s important for us to continue to use our voices and the power we have in order to build the communities we want to see. At the same time, we hope that during this summer you find some relief from the pressures of our world. These two ideas can co-exist and thrive together.

We founded Soul Shoppe in 2000 with the core commitment to change school culture through connection and curiosity, teaching empathy and compassion skills in order to eliminate bullying at its roots. The organization has touched the lives of over half a million children through its workshops and Peacemaker program. We know the work that we do is the foundation for deep change in our culture and extends well beyond the classroom.

Summer Resources for Parents

We know that being a parent can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Circumstances are clearly not at their best right now. Where do you go for help? This month, we’re offering some resources to support parents and the adults who want to stand with the youth in their lives. We aren’t affiliated with these organizations and don’t receive anything in return. We’re sharing these links because we think they are potentially useful. Some resources are directly relevant to current events while others suggest ways to build empathy, compassion and listening.  And some resources are simply about fun activities to do together, because joy is the foundation from which we can act.

Immigration Resources:

How to Talk to Kids about Immigration and Family Separation

Know Your Rights Information on ICE and Immigration

Building Social Emotional Skills

Soul Shoppe Refresher Videos — building peacemaking skills–a great way to continue your or your child’s Soul Shoppe skills

Parent Resource Guide to Social Emotional Learning  blogs, articles, and videos for parents about fostering kindness, empathy, gratitude, resilience, perseverance, and focus in children.

Bullying Prevention Resources

Stop Bullying: What You Can Do

The Consequences of Bullying – Fact Sheet

A Snapshot of Bullying in America (infographic)

Un Vistazo al Acoso Escolar en America

Cyberbullying Facts (infographic)

Datos Sobre El Acoso Cibernetico

“What Parents Should Know About Bullying”

Ideas for Preventing Summer Slide

Summer Fun with the Brain in Mind

Preventing Summer Slide: Why Not Try Internet Research?

Parents: Inspiring Readers Through the Summer Slump

Preventing Summer Slide (on a Budget)

Encouraging Science at Home Is Easier Than You Think

General Resources for Parents

Parent Toolkit – Support for parents on many topics: Academics, Social/Emotional, Health & Wellness, Financial Literacy, College & Career.

Parents Guide to Student Success – to see what your child will be learning at each grade level

Tend to Feelings and Needs

We made it to June, and the end of another school year is here! In these busy days before we launch into summer, there seems to be an endless list of work to be done, meetings and events to attend, and people wanting to have important conversations. When we are pressed for time, our communication may not be at its best. Miscommunications and misunderstandings happen. We move so fast that it’s a challenge to think about what we are feeling and what we really need from others. It’s even a bigger challenge to take the time express these thoughts and feelings to someone to get clarification and, ultimately, connection.

At Soul Shoppe we use a tool to help us express our feelings and needs in a way that helps us keep our relationships healthy. It supports us to be heard so there can be more understanding with the people in our lives. Too often we don’t take the time to identify the words needed to share our true feelings about an experience. That can lead to resentment, unexpressed hurt, sadness or anger — and these feelings create a wall of separation between ourselves and the people we care about.

Welcome to the I-Message. The I-Message tool consists of four steps, each with its own small risk, where you have to get a little bit vulnerable and do things slightly differently in order to build stronger connections –both to ourselves and to others.

I feel … (usually a feeling word)
When …
I need … (what do YOU really need?)
Will you please …

And here’s how it might work in real life. We recently talked with a person who was having some challenging feelings with their spouse. They were upset that their spouse was sitting on the couch doing nothing. Initially, what they wanted to say was, “Will you get off the couch?!?” in a voice filled with attitude and accusation. We asked this person to talk more about what they were really feeling and what they needed, and they shared that they wanted connection. With that in mind, they created this I-Message:

I feel lonely
WhenI don’t have connection and attention
I need some time with you
Will you please let me know when we can connect?

Imagine that request came to you. Would you be receptive to that message and open to building connection? Probably. Entering into this process is about taking responsibility for ourselves. When we own what we feel and ask for what we need, we empower ourselves without disempowering someone else. That’s so much better than getting surprised by what we are feeling and not getting what we need!

We invite you to try out the I-Message the next time you feel yourself in a reaction. Take a step back and pause to notice and name what you are feeling. What happened just before the feeling? What do you need now? Then put it in the frame of an I-Message and say it to someone. Notice the response you get and how connection opens up. Most of all, notice the difference you feel within yourself. Every time we take the time to get in touch with our own feelings and have the courage to voice our needs, we take a step closer to creating the connected, loving relationships we want in our lives.

Spotlight on a Champion

Got Soul Shoppe?

Scheduling Now for the 2018-19 School Year

Are you thinking about bringing Soul Shoppe’s award winning programs to your school? Get in touch! Contact us for more information or to book for the 2018-19 school year. Find out what others have to say about the impact our programs have had.

Thank You 2020 PeaceMaker Students!

Dear Wonderful Peacemakers,

Hello!! Missing you all!! Thinking of you, and hoping you and your loved ones are all well and safe at home.


• Normally at this time of year, you would be having your End-of-Year Peacemaker Party with your Principal and Peacemaker Liaisons. Since that is not possible this time, we Peacemaker Trainers have a little something for you, by video instead.  Whether you had Dara, Arek or Jill as your Peacemaker Trainer this year, all three of our vidoes are for ALL of you, below…and your entire family, too! 🙂


• Also, for those of you who don’t know about this fun thing happening…we invite you and your whole family to join the awesome weekly games and contests that are going on at SOUL SHOPPE LIVE. Join HERE. We hope you love!

Arek shares stories and useful home practices for CHECKING IN WITH FAMILY, to help everyone get along wonderfully well. 

Jill and some adorable friends share the benefits of DROPPING YOUR STORY, to help people (and puppets!) get back to peace and fun at home.

Before you watch the next video,
grab some paper and things to draw and color with! Dara shows how to make your very own PEACEMAKER CELEBRATION CERTIFICATE, plus how to set up a Peacemaking Station or Peace Corner for the whole family to use and enjoy.

Whatever grade you are in, whatever peacemaking you have done, and whatever peace you continue to bring into the world, we are so proud of each and every one of you.  You have worked so hard, with so much courage, dedication and love. You make this world a more beautiful, happy and peace-filled place for everyone.


Thank you, Peacemakers!!!!!


😄💟🕊 Dara, Arek, Jill and the entire team at Soul Shoppe

The Same Same Different Game

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.” – Winnie The Pooh


We’re all different in our own unique ways. We have different appearances, talents, and abilities. We all think, feel, behave, and believe differently. That’s what makes life so interesting!

Sometimes we celebrate these differences. We heap praise on people like Steve Jobs, Serena Williams, and Greta Thunberg who break the mold and challenge the status quo. But sometimes we exclude, judge, or disparage people because we think they aren’t like us

At Soul Shoppe, we show kids that if we just take the time to look beneath the surface, we’ll find that we have a lot more in common than we think. But how do we learn to really see beyond our outer appearances and get to know someone for what’s inside?

We can play the Same Same Different Game.

Last week, over 350 students joined us to play what we call the Same Same Different Game! How does it work? Well, we asked kids to look at two different people –me and our big-hearted facilitator Arek – and describe the differences and similarities they saw.

They pointed out that I’m a girl and Arek is a boy. They noted that we both have dark hair, though mine’s long and his is short. But our gender and our hair don’t make us who we are! There’s so much more that makes us unique, and these young people know it. They understand how to find the things we all have in common, whether it’s a love of dancing or a distaste for brussel sprouts.

But learning to appreciate and honor our differences takes practice. That’s why we created Respect Differences.

Respect Differences is an online course designed to teach K-6th grade kids how to recognize and appreciate all the things that make us unique. In this on-demand course, kids are guided through lessons that will help them build up their self-esteem so that they can show more empathy toward people with ideas, appearances, likes, and dislikes different from their own. 

We show kids how they can play the Same Same Different Game to celebrate differences all the time. Visit our website and learn more. Or, you can click the button below.

There’s No Such Thing As A Bully

At some point in our childhoods, most of us have been bullied. If not bullied ourselves, we’ve witnessed someone else getting bullied. Some of us have even been the bully. So how can we say “there’s no such thing as a bully”? It’s a radical proposition, and it’s one of the core assumptions we make at Soul Shoppe.

Over the years, we’ve had many opportunities to interact with children who were identified as bullies. When we were able to get beneath the behavior, to really connect with them, we saw every time that there was a need not getting met. Something was going on – a parent was ill, parents were divorcing, violence in the environment – there was a lack of safety and security or some overwhelming event. Children who have to navigate these situations may feel isolated, misunderstood, afraid and lonely. The bullying behavior meets a small piece of their need, even if it’s in a negative way. They get attention. They have power. Their actions matter. Or maybe it just feels good to have someone else feel afraid and upset too.

When we look underneath any bullying situation, there is always a young person with big feelings and they don’t know what else to do. They have emotions they don’t know how to manage. Bullying is a symptom of a bigger problem, never the root of the problem. And those big emotions didn’t start with them.

There’s no such thing as a bully. There is only a kid who is hurting and needs support. When we label a child a “bully,” we make their behavior define who they are. We start to look at and interact with them as if THEY are the problem, instead of addressing the behavior and where it’s really coming from. Changing how we view the behavior is one of the ways we can stop bullying at its roots. We can give kids tools, time and space to manage their emotions. We can show them how to listen to and have empathy for one another.

Our Free To Be assembly is a great way to introduce these practices into schools. Educators who want to deepen their anti-bullying and community-building practices can get a few ideas here. And finally, check out Soul Shoppe founder Vicki Abadesco’s Tedx Talk to find out what happened when one class “bully” was given a chance to be heard.

Tools of the Heart – our first course is online!
Soul Shoppe has been working hard to adapt to this “new normal” so we can continue providing your kids with the tools to thrive, even in the face of profound challenges. As a result, we’re proud to announce our first entirely digital course. 

Tools of the Heart combines breathing techniques, sharing exercises, art projects, and interactive videos to teach kids problem-solving and communications skills they can actually use in their everyday lives, whether they’re in the classroom or at home. This course was specifically designed by our SEL experts to help kids overcome isolation and strengthen their relationships in these challenging times. So far, the results speak for themselves!

If you haven’t had a chance to test it out yet, we urge you to check out the free demo and learn more about how social emotional learning can empower your kid to share courageously and listen with compassion.

Here’s what one parent had to say about our online classes last Spring:

“Your online classes are a godsend right now as we find our way through educating our children at home. Thank you for doing this! My son is 9. [Soul Shoppe] is his FAVORITE thing to do EVERY DAY since you started. He LOVES it. He is literally peacemaking for our family. THANKS.” 
Check out the demo.
We Love Educators – October’s celebration!

Last month we took some time to share appreciation and gratitude for educators everywhere with our first ever virtual event. If you were on call, you know how surprisingly connected we all felt thanks to Adorable’s guided meditation and the musical talent of our special guest,  

We also learned how to empty our over-full balloons. There is so much happening in the world, in our classrooms, and in our homes that sometimes we can forget to take a breath. Having a chance to just slow down and feel, then share our feelings was a powerful and healing experience.

Thank you to those of you that joined us, and if you didn’t have the chance to participate, you can watch our recap video here.

We’re Hiring!


Earn $200/session while making an impact in the lives of parents and their kids.

Soul Shoppe is an award-winning Oakland-based program that delivers live workshops and trainings to elementary schools throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Our in-school programs focus on developing students’ social-emotional skills, bullying prevention strategies and peace-building tools. Our Parent Nights bring the fundamentals of our programs empowering parents with more empathy and better communication skills. We are looking to fill Parent Night facilitator/trainer positions for the 2018-19 school year.

Parent Night Workshop Facilitator Job Description
● PN trainers facilitate 60-90 minute sessions teaching core communication and empathy skills for children aged 5-12. Groups range from 20 – 100.
● PN trainers need to learn the script/flow for the evening, basics of Soul Shoppe programs/core skills, and must be able to engage large audiences with warmth, compassion and fun!
● Teaching, training, educational and/or performance experience a plus
● Must have a car and be able to travel to different schools sites in the morning or evening.
● Must be available to train for up to 10 hours in August 2018 (we’ll create training based on your availability) and attend group audition/interview on August 14th from 6-8:30pm.

All Soul Shoppe facilitators work part time, 1-2 trainings per week (Sept-May). The bulk of parent evenings happen September to December. We train facilitators thoroughly in August to prepare for the school year. Facilitators are assigned to specific schools based on school needs and location and have a special relationship with each school they serve throughout the Bay Area.

Learn more at
Stand & Deliver (group interviews/auditions) Tuesday, August 14, 6pm-8:30pm at our office in Oakland.

NEXT STEPS: By Thursday, AUGUST 9, 2018 Send your resume and cover letter to:

Include in cover letter:
1. Why this position speaks to you 2. Your experience with facilitating either communication skills or empathy building skills 3. Your experience with elementary school parents and kids

Youth Making Peace Every Day

Our young people are speaking up. At March for Our Lives rallies across the country, they showed up to hear and hold each other, and to work toward a simple dream of safe schools. Their message, their leadership and the community they have built is inspiring. By sharing their feelings and their needs, these young people have found common ground in their experiences, whether they come from Florida or Chicago or Los Angeles or anywhere in between. Because they are listening and actually hearing each other, they have been able to build a movement.

We know the power and healing that comes from being heard. We know that we need allies who will help us to express our feelings in healthy ways. Allies give us the support we need. With the help of our allies we can create a safe environment so that everyone can speak their truth – even when we don’t understand or when it’s hard to hear. Allies help us to work toward solutions that serve the best interests of all. This is the role our Peacemakers have on school playgrounds across the country.

Peacemakers are 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students who are trained to help their classmates resolve conflicts that occur on the playground, in classrooms, or the cafeteria. They learn conflict resolution skills, communication tools and leadership. When a conflict arises, two peacemakers literally walk their peers through the Soul Shoppe Peace Path. They use our seven-step process and work through the problem until it’s resolved.

While the process is important, the Peacemakers themselves and the qualities they embody are the heart of the program. They are allies to one another in facilitating the peace process and allies for their classmates to ensure that each person is heard. Peacemakers come to every interaction with ally strategies that change the dynamic from punishment or shame to mutual understanding.

One of the strategies they use is “dropping the story.” Every one of us has the impulse to form an opinion about a person whether we know them or not. To be an ally, it’s important to let go of assumptions and judgments. Peacemakers learn to counteract that impulse by telling themselves, “I’m dropping the story.” This is easier said than done! Try it for yourself. For the next five people you see, actively interrupt your thoughts by saying, “I’m dropping my story.” You might be surprised at how quickly we create stories about everyone we encounter. Notice what changes in your interactions when you let go of them.

The next ally strategy is “open mind.” An open mind includes actively listening with ears, eyes and heart. Peacemakers look for feelings that aren’t explicitly voiced, but can be read from body posture, from the tone of someone’s voice, from the look in their eyes or from a gut feeling they have. Our bodies are sensitive to other people’s emotions, and we can generally read other people well when we take the time to do it. Taking a moment to stop and breathe and tune in to someone else allows the Peacemakers to see what is going on. As a result, the person feels genuinely heard, and being deeply heard is sometimes all a person needs. Having someone stop and listen is powerful medicine.

A third ally strategy is “listen to all sides.” Peacemakers remain neutral, not taking sides or deciding who is right or wrong. As an ally, the goal is to understand the needs of each person. Right/wrong is not an important concept. Peacemakers listen, not to decide or to judge, but to help each person speak and be heard.

These are a few of the tools that Peacemakers put into action. As you can imagine, when schools have Peacemakers, the entire culture of conflict shifts. Disagreements are settled not by who can yell the loudest or run away the fastest or with a quick punishment, but by listening deeply to one another’s needs. When students receive the tools/support to solve problems themselves, they learn that conflict can be an opportunity to build connection.

We’re inspired by the power of our young people. Let’s continue to give them opportunities to step into leadership in our classrooms, schools and communities. Let’s support our next generation of leaders by sharing our skills, resources and knowledge. Most importantly, let us be allies to them by listening deeply and hearing what they truly need.

Would you like more Soul Shoppe in your home? We’ve put together a special package for you! Our new Peacemakers @ Home Kit contains two of each of our highly coveted peace path (laminated, 8 1/2″ x 11″) and peace keys. Instructions on how to get started are included. Order between now and April 20th and use code PMAPR to receive free standard shipping. Click here.

Contact Amanda to find out how to bring our Peacemaker Program into your favorite elementary school.