Bullied as a seventh and eight-grader at an all-girls school when she was younger, Natalie is using her experience to help others who are experiencing that same nightmare.
The Sherman Oaks, CA., teen has launched a free app called “Sit With Us,” to fight bullying, which helps isolated, lonely, or bullied students join lunch groups anonymously and find a safe table to eat at.
Natalie, now in 11th grade, ate lunch alone for her entire seventh-grade year while her classmates looked on. She was threatened with scissors and taunted as she walked the halls. It led to nightmares, stress, and depression, which she was hospitalized for and still haunts her today. But she’s using it all for good. And is also now thriving in a new school.
With the new app, students who designate themselves as “ambassadors,” invite others to join them for lunch. Ambassadors can also post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone seeking company that they can come on over to the ambassadors table.
Natalie spoke on NPR’s All Things Considered, that the reason she created the app was because no one should be publicly rejected or made to feel shamed or bullied.
“This way it’s very private. It’s through the phone. No one else has to know,” she said. “And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.”
“People are already posting open lunches at my school,” she told the program. “So I’m very excited that things are already kicking off with a great start.”
Sit With Us launched on September 9.
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