Lunchtime can be a rough time for students. If a student is new to a school or does not have friends in their lunch period, they may be at a loss for where to sit and oftentimes students don’t readily invite others to sit with them. To help students overcome this awkward situation and help students feel accepted, Natalie Hampton, a 16 year-old from Sherman Oaks, CA, created an app called Sit With Us.
Hampton described how she came up with the idea for the app during an interview with NPR. According to the interview, at her old school, she asked groups of students if she could sit at their table, but faced rejection and often ate alone. After changing schools and making friends with whom she could eat, Hampton still felt the need to act.
“I felt that if I was thriving in a new school, but didn’t do anything about the people who feel like this every single day, then I’m just as bad as the people who watched me eat alone,” said Hampton. “I felt like, with my story, it was my job to stand up and do something about all the kids who feel like this every day. And I wanted to create something that would address bullying, but in a positive way.”
With the Sit With Us app, students sign up to be “Sit With Us club ambassadors” and post an “open lunch.” Students using the app to find a table to sit at during lunch can look for the open lunches to find a place to sit, and hopefully along the way, they can meet new friends. All Things Considered host Audie Cornish asked Hampton why students need this app when they can just simply ask their peers if they can sit with them, but Hampton explained it’s not that easy.
“I tried many times to reach out to someone, but I was rejected many times,” said Hampton. “And you feel like you’re labeling yourself as an outcast when you ask to join a table with someone you don’t know. 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 app, which launched last week, has already seen great success. If you think this is something your students can benefit from, encourage them to download the app (for iOS devices only) for free here!