NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– Imagine going back to school and being stuck sitting alone at lunch time.
Would you feel lonely? Sad? Isolated? Now, there might be something to keep it from happening to another kid, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported.
It was the moment Bo Paske’s life at lunchtime changed.
“He just sat down with me… he said, ‘Whats up dude?'” Paske said.
Perhaps you remember the photo. CBS2 first shared it with you earlier this month after Travis Rudolph, star wide receiver with Florida State, saw Paske sitting alone. It was something that unfortunately happened often for the autistic boy, but Rudolph taking a seat changed everything.
“I’m a superstar! Everybody recognizes me!” Paske said.
He sits at a packed table now. That’s exactly what a California teen wants to see happen for every student like Paske, including herself.
“I ate alone every day for almost two years. I’ve personally felt the rejection isolation and rejection that go along with that,” Natalie Hampton said.
Hampton, 16, is tackling the problem of lunchtime seclusion with technology. She just released an app called “Sit With Us.”
Students sign up to be school lunch ambassadors, agreeing to post open lunches that are visible to everyone else in school.
Anyone who doesn’t know where to go or who to sit with can join your table… make new friends,” she said.
The app is free to download, but students must take a pledge.
“Saying that you will accept anyone that wants to join your table and work to make their school more inclusive,” Hampton said.
CBS2 checked in with some Upper West Side students.
“I think it promote a lot of students to make new friendships,” 13-year-old Julia Panas said.
Alex Ritholz, 11, said he’s sat alone once or twice, adding that it made him feel “sad.” He said he wouldn’t hesitate to sign up.
“I think the real change happens when kids help kids,” Hampton said.
“Sit With Us” launched just after Labor Day and has nearly 7,000 downloads. Hampton attends a new school and loves it, with the school using her app to set up lots of lunches already.