Many kids suffer from social isolation and loneliness throughout each school day; feelings that are brought into sharper focus during lunch time when students must fend for themselves.
Social isolation is a problem at every school, and can be the underlying cause for bigger problems that often go unaddressed.
To combat this, Beyond Differences, a non-profit dedicated to ending social isolation in schools and bringing about a culture of inclusion is sponsoring National No One Eats Alone Day on Friday, February 10. This peer-led lunchtime school event asks students to engage in a simple act of kindness—making sure that no one is eating alone and that students make an effort to eat lunch with their peers.
No One Eats Alone traces its origins to the story of Lili Smith, who was born with cranial facial syndrome and was isolated from her fellow students during her middle school years. After she passed away at age 15 due to complications from the syndrome, local teens came together to effect change at their schools. The event has grown from a handful of middle schools in Marin County in 2012 to 1,200 schools with 500,000 students participating last year. Currently, over 700 schools have signed up to participate this year with many more expected to join.
According to Beyond Differences, No One Eats Alone Day is based on three basic ideas:
- Students Can Improve Their Own Communities: No One Eats Alone allows students to make a tangible change in their own community by making sure that everyone is included at lunch.
- Inclusive Communities are Happier Communities: Inclusive school communities create happier and more successful students while also empowering youth to be agents of change.
- Stopping Social Isolation Helps to Stop Bullying: Social isolation is oftentimes the precursor for bullying. School communities with a culture of inclusion have far fewer instances of bullying.
The program is free of cost. For more information on how your child’s school can participate this year, please visit the Beyond Differences website here. Breaking down these barriers, for even one day, might make all the difference in a child’s life.