EAGLE - A student-led movement, started in Florida, is now taking shape in the Treasure Valley.
We Dine Together is an effort to make sure no child sits alone at lunch.
Two seventh graders at Eagle Middle School decided they would start the the movement at their school this semester.
The school's cafeteria is a busy, noisy place during lunch period. It's filled with kids, but you'll notice, almost everyone has someone to sit with. There's a reason for that.
Students Emma Holtz and Autumn Stephenson are leading the We Dine Together movement at Eagle Middle.
The idea originally came from Denis Estimon, a high school student in Florida who changed his school with the simple act of eating together.
His story went viral, and now is being replicated in schools on the other side of the country, including in Eagle.
"We thought it was cool and we decided to start a chapter here," Autumn said. "You just kind of have to keep an eye out for who is not talking, who is minding their own business reading a book, kinda doing their own thing."
Emma says it was easy to spot those kids who could use a friend.
"I would see people either sitting alone, playing on their phones, trying to do something to pass the time," she said.
Eagle Middle School teacher and We Dine Together advisor Caya Snethen says a program like this is needed.
"Every single person just wants to be loved, every single person wants to be validated, every single person wants to feel like somebody really cares," Snethen said. "It's really not about just sitting with someone, it really is about getting that connection and letting them know that we do care."
Emma and Autumn recruited students who may want to reach out, and be a part of We Dine Together. They now have more than a dozen members.
These two seventh graders say despite campaigns for kindness, loneliness and bullying are alive and well in our schools.
"Definitely, it's just taken a different form than what it used to," Autumn said. "It's not usually as physical, it's either verbal or it's digital."
Emma added: "It's usually not over text, it's sometimes over social media as in Snapchat, Instagram, you can find anyone on there."
They are well aware of recent headlines, including the deadly school shooting in Florida, and that kids who feel isolated may act out.
"We're just trying to reach out so that they don't do that," Emma said. "I think that everybody needs to care for each other."
Teacher Caya Snethen says the We Dine Together volunteers are brave for stepping out of their comfort zone.
"It's kind of scary sometimes for kids who want to approach somebody who might be the bully, who might be the troublemaker, but those are the ones who need it the most," she said.
Emma and Autumn have started something that has incredible potential to bring students together, and they plan to carry it forward right through high school.
This is something your school can do too. New high school chapters are launched when teachers nominate students to be leaders. For more information on We Dine Together, and how you can make change at your school, check out this website and Facebook page.