Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kid! of the Month – Natalie Hampton – May 2017

By Victoria Feng, Assistant Editor and AKOM Editor
Natalie Hampton, 16-year-old creator of Sit with Us

 

Quote of the Month

“When you put kindness out into the world, it comes back to you.”
-Natalie Hampton, 16-year-old creator of Sit with Us

May Amazing Kid! of the Month

With only a month or two of school left, it’s a time to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather outside. The days are longer, and you can feel the scorching heat when you go outside. A lot of schools have parties, picnics, and field days with activities to celebrate the school year. But sometimes when there are group activities, some kids are left out.

Natalie Hampton has created a solution to one place where kids can be left out year-round: lunch. As a middle-schooler, she was excluded from sitting with other girls. Now in high school, she decided to put a positive spin on a negative experience: She created an app called Sit with Us that helps create a more inclusive school community.

Read on to find out more about Natalie and her app!

Sitting Alone at Lunch

During middle school, Natalie was bullied by multiple girls and recounts sitting alone at lunch as one of her worst middle school memories. When she asked to sit at someone’s table, that person said no. Sometimes the girls got even crueler, and when Natalie texted someone asking for where they could meet for lunch, they gave her the wrong location. Natalie shared this experience with her parents, who tried to help her situation, and during high school they helped her switch schools. At her old school, Natalie’s art teacher also helped the situation.

Participating in an activity you’re passionate about can lead to developing more friends, too, because you at least have one common interest. For Natalie, that activity was theater.

Turning Bad Experiences into a Positive One

Now after she’s changed schools, Natalie has discovered a much nicer school community and works to make her school bully-free. When someone’s sitting alone at lunch, she invites that person over. Natalie says she’s met some of her best friends this way. Eventually, her kind acts motivated her to create the app, Sit with Us.

Sit with Us is an iOS app and has been featured on the Apple app store. The goal of Sit with Us is to create a welcoming environment at school and, especially, lunch. After agreeing to the ambassador’s pledge, app users can be “ambassadors” for their schools. These ambassadors are able to create lunches with their friends or create open lunches. Open lunches are available to all students and are a great way to make friends with new kids. Basically, it’s the app version of inviting kids who don’t have a seat to come to your table.

Natalie explains how the app works: “After you download the app, you create a personal profile that states where you go to school. You add a profile pic and can state your interests. If you take the Ambassador’s pledge to post open lunches from time to time, then your profile page gets a star on it. You can chat with friends or within lunch groups and send pictures. You can also host an open lunch or coordinate lunches with friends.”

For kids who attend schools that don’t allow phones, Natalie has a tech-free idea: Schools can create a bulletin board where ambassadors can post lunches for all students to see. Kids can then join the open invites. She encourages all kids to have a “sit with us” attitude and invite kids who are sitting alone. Really, it all boils down to someone’s passion for helping people and the obstacles that person is willing to overcome to achieve those goals.

Spreading Kindness Everywhere

Natalie originally created the app only for iOS, but after Sit with Us became widely popular, Natalie was approached by users who requested the app to be available for Android, too. Two companies have even agreed to cover the costs of the Android app. As for the iOS app, Natalie says there will be refinements soon.

As founding the app Sit with Us and inviting kids to her lunch table have shown, Natalie is extremely dedicated towards helping people. She also says she loves science and would like to go to medical school. These two passions have led her to consider being a pediatrician, a career that would let Natalie help kids.

Making a difference in someone’s life doesn’t have to be as complicated as creating an app. Take a look in your community or even the world, and see how you could make a positive change. You could start like Natalie did by inviting kids to her lunch table or carve out your own path to making an impact. Amazing Kids wishes you the best of luck!

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