[Newark, NJ – February 12] – More than 9,000 students at 32 Newark Public Schools (NPS) participated in National No One Eats Alone Day today, a lunchtime school event dedicated to getting students to engage with one another, find common interests and make everyone feel included. Students played ice breaker games and engaged in conversations to help them build better relationships with their peers.
“The district is committed to promoting a safe and inclusive learning environment that makes all of our students feel supported,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of Newark Public Schools. “National No One Eats Alone Day is an important initiative that is making meaningful progress toward combatting social isolation and peer pressure in schools across the country. We will continue to encourage our students to reach out to one another through the positive activities they learned today.”
Created by Beyond Differences, a non-profit organization that empowers youth to end social isolation, No One Eats Alone Day encourages students to build more inclusive environments at schools, particularly in middle schools where adolescents can be insensitive to students who are being excluded during lunchtime, which is often times the longest or most difficult period of the day for young people who feel socially isolated.
“No One Eats Alone Day asks students to engage in a simple act of kindness at lunch – making sure that no one is eating alone,” says Laura Talmus, founder of Beyond Differences. “No One Eats Alone is a powerful program. We’ve seen students connect during No One Eats Alone despite their differences,” says Talmus. “And, we’ve learned through teachers and families that new and lasting friendships have been forged during these events.”
In 2015, more than 400,000 students in 700 schools and 38 states participated in National No One Eats Alone Day. Beyond Differences will reach a million students in more than 1,100 schools in 50 states this year.
“Social isolation has serious health consequences such as depression, eating disorders, sleep disturbances and risk high blood pressure and cardio vascular disorders,” says Matt Pantell, M.D., pediatrician at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. “It can lead to truancy, substance abuse, suicide and even community violence.”
For more information about No One Eats Alone visit: http://www.nooneeatsalone.org/.