For most teens, getting an “A” on their most recent test is the biggest accomplishment imaginable, but for Natalie Hampton the bar was set much higher. Hampton, a 16-year-old from Sherman Oaks, Calif., launched Sit With Us, an app that combats bullying in the modern age.
The app ensures that a student will never have to eat lunch alone, an issue many kids face daily. It lets students sign up as ambassadors and post open lunch events so that kids who have no one to sit with can find a table and make some new friends.
It may seem that kids who have nowhere to eat could simply go up to a table and ask to sit down, however many requests such as these are rejected. For a child who is building up their self-esteem, this can be extremely detrimental.
Through Hampton’s creation however, the process is far more private. Finding a table on one’s phone allows students to find a group without the knowledge of any of their other peers, eliminating the possibility of rejection and embarrassment and helping them find new friends who will welcome them.
Hampton, herself, was led to create the Sit With Us app after going through a similar experience. She spent the duration of her seventh grade school year eating as an outcast, knowing that if she chose to eat alone she would be tagged as the “girl who has nowhere to sit.” In addition to this, Hampton was also physically attacked, verbally assaulted and cyber-bullied.
Hampton told Audie Cornish on National Public Radio’s (NPR) “All Things Considered,” “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.”
Since its creation, her app has had hundreds of thousands of downloads not only in California but all over the world. Kids in countries such as Morocco, Australia, the Philippines, England, and France have all begun using it, affirming that the problem that it hopes to solve is experienced globally.
In response to her creation’s growing popularity, Hampton said, “My hope is that it really helps people. Because it does not matter if everyone in the world downloads it and it does not do anything. My hope is that, even if it changes the life of one person, that will make it all worth it for me.”