A recent viral photograph of a Florida State University football player joining a boy with autism who had been sitting alone at lunch reminded us of how cruel kids can be and that lunchtime is not always a social, inviting time. For 16 year-old Natalie Hampton, her own middle school experience of being bullied and having to sit alone in the cafeteria inspired her to create an app, called Sit With Us. Upstanding and inclusive students can become “Ambassadors” who can post about open lunch “events” that anyone can join. Through the chat, any kid can coordinate lunch plans or find an open group to join. While we wish that phones didn’t have to be involved (and truly that the need for this app didn’t even exist), we understand that phones and technology are the communication channel tweens and teens love and use the most these days. One benefit to having the phone app is that it helps minimize public shaming and embarrassment since kids can approach a particular lunch table knowing it is an open invitation. Hampton, who hopes kids will also use the app simply as a way to connect with other students at school, wants her Sit With Us app to be an example of the power of positive social media and to offer a simple but effective way to foster a more inclusive school community.
via Huffington Post
Lead image via Carolyn Hampton Photography