Having grown up the perennial New Kid, I appreciate what Natalie is doing.
After two years of hell at school and four separate physical attacks, Natalie Hampton finally escaped the school where no one defended her. Today, she’s a vibrant, happy senior in high school. She has lots of friends, and she looks forward to graduation. Her transformation began on her first day of high school, when, just like before, Natalie didn’t know anyone. This time, however, another student, seeing that she looked lost, befriended her. “It saved my life,” Natalie reveals in her TEDx Teen talk.
All it took was one person. With one friend, she was no longer untouchable. She could make other friends––and she did. For two years, Natalie Hampton ate lunch alone. So after she changed schools, whenever she saw someone eating lunch alone, she would invite them to join her friends at their table. She knew that by saying “sit with us,” she protected other children from becoming untouchable. “Each time, the person’s face would light up, and the look of relief would wash over [it],” she says. “Some of those people have become some of my closest friends.” Natalie was willing to give up her social capital, but she discovered that when a person has friends, spending social capital by befriending those without it lifts people up without bringing anyone down. If “sit with us” became the ethos in middle school, bullying would be a thing of the past.