Bullies made Natalie feel worthless. She made an app to prove them wrong.

It was the worst two weeks of Natalie Hampton’s life.

She was finishing seventh grade at a new middle school, an all-girls academy where her mother had studied. Unlike elementary school, where she'd been happy and had lots of friends, Natalie had a hard time connecting with others at her new school — the girls there had already formed strong cliques and weren't looking for new members. Natalie was isolated, making her a prime target for bullies.

Three times in two weeks, groups of girls physically attacked her. A few days later, she started receiving threatening emails. Eventually, Natalie became completely ostracized.


"I felt horrible about myself because I assumed I was the only person in the world this was happening to," Natalie revealed. "I didn't understand what I'd done wrong to deserve being treated like this."

Natalie’s experience with bullying is extra galling because of how common it is.

Image via iStock.

According to a national survey, 28% of American students in grades 6-12 have reported being bullied in some way. It is alienating, stressful, and traumatic.

For Natalie, transferring schools again was what she needed. Now she has a strong cohort of friends and actively reaches out to include other students.  

"At my old school, sitting alone eating lunch was one of the worst parts of my day," she said. "It was embarrassing and I wished all the time that one person would come by and ask if I was OK and would sit with me."

So at her new school, Natalie started inviting others to sit with her.

One of the girls she welcomed to her table for lunch is now among her best friends. It got Natalie thinking: How could she help connect even more students to new social groups?

Last February, it came to her: She needed to build an app. For the next few months, she worked side-by-side with a coder, designing a mobile app called Sit With Us to help students meet new potential friends at lunchtime.

Sit With Us is based on a very simple concept: Your next best friend might be in the same room, and you just don’t know it yet.

Sit With Us — the best friendships might start with something as simple as lunch. Image via iStock.

Users who download the app only need to sign up and identify their location. Sit With Us does the rest, connecting them to other users nearby who’d happily welcome them at their lunch tables.

Natalie figured the app would be a fun little school project. Instead, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 52,000 downloads and more than 132 million impressions in the iTunes App Store.

"We’ve been receiving messages on our social media about kids starting Sit With Us clubs at their school across the world, from as far away as New Zealand and Italy," Natalie said. "We haven’t heard any long-term stories since it’s so new, but we have heard of kids starting at their school and already meeting people."

Sit With Us is also finding fans among adults.

Sit With Us creator Natalie Hampton. Image via Sit with Us/Facebook, used with permission.

Natalie has received Facebook messages from nurses at UCLA hospital, conference attendees — even churches looking to connect lonely parishioners with new friends to sit with during services.

"Honestly, if this helps change one life or make things a little bit easier for one person, then all of this would be worth it," said Natalie. "Ultimately, I want to help people find other people who'll help them feel safe. That's what it's all about."

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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