Cascade Middle School celebrates inclusion on "No One Eats Alone" day
EUGENE, Ore. - There's no way to count how many middle school or high school students sit alone at lunch, all week long, but mental health experts say that the impacts of this kind of isolation are huge.
At lunchtime at Cascade Middle School, the "C-Crew" team of Cascade 8th graders is leading the charge for nobody to sit alone.
"It's popular kids and non-popular kids, so it's kind of like, we've got to mix them up occasionally," said Fiona Brown, a student at Cascade.
On Friday, it was "No one eats alone" day, a national day that includes curriculum, posters and activities, all of which attempted to do something about a long-ignored problem at school -- social isolation.
"A lot of research shows that there's an effect of course on mental health," said Dr. Lisa Roth, a Trillium Behavioral Health Officer. "So depression, anxiety, etc. Also physical health, and difficulty concentrating in school."
"That's our main goal here today," said Brown. "To make everyone feel like they have people to talk to and friends to hang out with and they're not eating alone."
Brown gets the kids to open up with fun ice-breaker questions.
Dr. Roth says that the point of all of this is very simple -- to change the culture in the schools, and to make the schools a more welcome place for all kids.
For Brown, if the situation can change, even for just one kid suffering in silence, it's worth it.
"It's a major thing that needs to happen, and I'm very hopeful that these kids are able to make new friends from this day," said Brown.
Trillium Health Care and a division of its parent company, The Centene Charitable Foundation, is helping support "No One Eats Alone."