You CAN Sit With Us!
After its release, Mean Girls quickly became the defining movie of a generation, and many of its accurate scenes and clever quotes remain relevant to this day.
Much smarter than your average teen comedy, Mean Girls had an uncanny grip on what high school can stereotypically be like, albeit to a comedic extreme.
Out of all of high school’s idiosyncrasies, however, one of the best descriptions (and some of the best scenes) in the film revolved around the cafeteria, where lunchtime was described as being akin to a watering hole in Africa.
Cliques or exclusive groups of friends can make school difficult for anyone, especially if they’re new to school, just plain shy, or ostracized for one reason or another. Now, thanks to one innovative teen, that painstakingly awkward scenario could be forever erased from overcrowded cafeterias across the nation.
Stomp out bullying with this handy app!
Meet 16-year-old Natalie Hampton from Sherman Oaks, California.
Though she’s in high school now (and loving it), school wasn’t always a happy place for Natalie. In fact, for an entire year in seventh grade, Natalie ate alone at lunch every day. Of course, this wasn’t her own decision, but she was the new student at a private all-girls school in Los Angeles, and making friends was anything but easy.
And this negative social environment wasn’t just limited to the cafeteria. Like nearly a quarter of all teens in America today, Natalie was bullied at her new school, and what started as simple name calling extended to physical assault and even death threats. In what her mother would later call “the darkest period of [their] lives,” Natalie ultimately had to be hospitalized for the anxiety she suffered.
After switching to a new high school, however, Natalie realized she needed to be the change she wished to see.
Making a Change
Now a junior, Natalie vowed to find a way to stop other kids from ever having to go through what she did.
Active in theatre, dance, yearbook, and community service, Hampton decided that the best place to stop social isolation and encourage positivity among peers is in the cafeteria. But how could she stop students from having to eat alone and find new lunch buddies instead? With technology, of course.
Natalie has since invented the Sit With Us app that allows users to coordinate lunches and invite others to attend, allowing others to know where there are available open seats free for the taking without fear of rejection.
“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,” Natalie told NPR.
“It’s nice to see how resilient she is,” said her mom Carolyn Hampton. “It was such a tough period in our lives and she’s turned it around and is doing something really positive.”