LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Junior high school wasn’t kind to 16-year-old Natalie Hampton.
“I was physically attacked on multiple occasions. In addition to that, I was cyber-bullied and verbally attacked,” she said.
Lunchtime was often the hardest part of her school day.
“I ate alone every day for two years,” she added. “And I have personally felt the rejection, isolation and embarrassment that go along with that.”
So, the Sherman Oaks teen decided to fight back. Not with her fists, but with her phone.
She recently launched a lunch-planning app, Sit With Us, that allows students to sign up to be “ambassadors” of their lunch table at school.
“(Ambassadors) agree to post ‘open lunches’ and these lunches are visible to everyone else in the school, so anyone who doesn’t know where to go, or doesn’t know who to sit with, can join your lunch and join your table and make friends with you,” Hampton said.
The app displays all the lunches available at a given school.
The app is free to download. But before students can complete their registration, they must sign a pledge saying they will accept anyone who tries to join their table and also work to make their school more inclusive, Hampton said.
Hampton is now at a new school — and thriving. So far, there have been dozens of lunches arranged through the app at her high school.
“I think the real change happens when kids help kids, because an adult telling you not to bully isn’t going to stop you,” she said.
In less than a week since launching, the app has been downloaded hundreds of times. Hampton hopes it spreads to schools nationwide.