Bullied teen creates Sit With Us app to help shy kids find lunch friends

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LOS ANGELES — A high school student who wanted to make sure no one else had to eat lunch alone created an app to help kids connect with new friends.

Natalie Hampton was 16 years old when she created the Sit With Us app.

“Sit With Us was inspired by a miserable experience of being bullied in middle school,” Hampton wrote on her website. “Apart from the verbal taunts and violence, one of the worst things was having to eat lunch alone, and the embarrassment of having others see me eating lunch alone.

“After I changed schools, whenever I saw someone eating lunch alone, I would always invite the person to join the group. Each time, the person’s face would light up, and the look of relief would wash over the person’s face. Some of those people have become some of my closest friends.”

Hampton said she designed the social networking app to promote kindness and inclusion in schools.

“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,” Hampton said.

The Sit With Us app makes it easy for shy students to meet new people and for outgoing kids to make others feel welcome.

“[Kids] can volunteer to be Ambassadors for their schools and post open lunch events on campus where everyone will be included,” Hampton wrote. “No one needs to eat alone!

“Inviting others to join the lunch table not only fosters a warmer, more welcome community, but also provides a great opportunity to make new friends.”

Through the app, students can create a personal profile, including their interests. Then they enter their school to connect with fellow students and see if any ambassadors are hosting a lunch.

Students can set up notifications to make sure they don’t miss any updates on lunch requests or friend requests.

The app is only available for Apple devices.

If you or someone you know would like to set up a Sit With Us chapter at your school, you can download a welcome packet.

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