Turning Pain into Positivity
17-year old Natalie Hampton creates an anti-bullying app
BY: ALLYSON ROCHE ’19
After a middle school experience laced with lonely lunches and physical, verbal, and cyber attacks, 17-year-old Natalie Hampton used her painful memories to her fuel positive activism.
Hampton is the creator of the app, “Sit With Us.”
“It’s a free lunch planning app that helps bullied kids, or pretty much anyone find allies in their school,” Hampton said.
Students download the app and sign up to be ambassadors, which means they are able to post where they sit at lunch. This becomes viewable to any student in the school, “so if you’re someone who is bullied or lonely and looking for some friends to sit with, you can open the app and you’re greeted with a whole list of places you can sit without any fear of rejection,” Hampton explained.
“When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I went through a pretty horrific bullying experience,” said Hampton. “I was physically attacked. Verbally bullied and cyber-bullied,” the teen somberly, yet forthrightly said of her middle school experience.
To add to the attacks, “I ate lunch alone every single day. That act was so isolating and embarrassing for me and it really stuck with me,” said Hampton.
She transferred schools due to the severity of the bullying, and soon found a close group of friends in the new, welcoming, community.
Despite her smoother transition to high school, Hampton “never really forgot what happened.” She began inviting lonely kids to sit at her table during lunch, and now looks back on this decision, realizing that she never would have met her closest friends if she had not take that positive action.
“That’s why I was kind of inspired to create the app, to kind of spread that message to other schools and other kids,” said Hampton.
Hampton initially created the app as a therapy project, with the intention of turning her negative experiences into positive action. She never thought the app would take off the way it did – her expectations were only that she would receive a few downloads.
“When we released it, it just started growing and growing and it has almost kind of snowballed.” One year after the launch, the app is currently operating in eight different countries with over 100,000 downloads. Hampton mentions that she is trying to work out the legality of expanding, because countries like Morocco and South Korea are requesting that the app be available.
Because the anti-bullying activist is making change through social media, her advocacy can be reached around the world. “I have seen a lot of the worst of social media and what it can do to people. I wanted to kind of fight against the tide a little bit with a positive way of using social media to connect with people in a physical way,” she said.
Hampton hopes that her app can positively impact communities while also bringing awareness to bullying. She wants more people in society to be the helping hand to those who are vulnerable.
Over and over again, Natalie Hampton sincerely expressed this point with a hopeful, yet serious tone, emphasizing how vital this action can be. “Being an open ear and being there for people can go such a long way.”