Natalie Hampton‘s Sit With Us app came out of necessity for the young lady, who was bullied by her peers.
Miss Hampton, 16, is a California student and like millions of teens and preteens, she knows how lonely and embarrassing it can feel to walk into a big cafeteria every lunchtime during an entire school year and be forced to eat alone.
The truth is that children are not always kind to each other, eating alone meant stares, teasing and sometimes bullying from the popular students. On September 9, Hampton decided to aid those, who need a little help socializing by launching the Sit With Us app. Thanks to the Sit With Us app lonely children will no longer have to eat lunch alone.
In several interviews, Hampton shared her story and revealed that for two years she had no friends, was bullied, and became depressed. Hampton spent most of her seventh and eighth grade school years eating lunch alone.
Hampton said she was physically and verbally attacked a by a group of mean girls. They often called her horrible names, and she was never invited to gatherings. Hampton said she was shoved in a locker; they scratched her, and they even threatened to kill her.
The bullying led to a lack of sleep and loss of appetite and eventually hospitalization. Hampton’s mother calls this chapter “the darkest period of our lives.” The teenage girl explained:
“I was a shell of the person I was. When I walked into a classroom, I was planning an escape route.”
She finally changed school, and she met a group of friends and is now thriving. However, she has not forgotten the dark moments she went through, which led to the creation of the app. The teenager said:
“Lunch might seem really small, but I think these are the small steps that make a school more inclusive.”It doesn’t seem like you’re asking that much, but once you get people in the mindset, it starts to change the way students think about each other. It makes a huge difference in how they treat each other.”
The app allows students to connect with other students or “ambassadors” at their schools. They talk and decide if they want to sit together and share their meal. The inventor of the app gave more details below:
“Users create a profile, add friends and describe their interests. Users have the option to designate themselves as “ambassadors” who create “open lunch” events and invite others to join them. The open lunch events serve as go-aheads for all interested students to join the ambassadors’ table.”
Hampton wrote on the app’s official website:
“Sit With Us was born because I am committed to making sure that other kids don’t suffer as I did. I believe that seemingly small, incremental changes in the overall dynamic of a school community can bring about change, so that everyone feels welcome and included. I believe that every school has upstanders like me, who are happy and willing to invite anyone to join the lunch table. It is my hope, with people pledging to be ambassadors at their schools, that no one will feel left out.”
Hampton’s Sit With Us app is helpful because the electronic process is private and discreet and therefore children will not be publicly rejected and considered social outcasts by their peers. Hampton stated:
“This way it’s very private. It’s through the phone. No one else has to know. And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”
The Sit With Us app is free and recommended for middle school age and older students. It is already getting great reviews from children and parents all across America.