Four Florida teens started a lunch club that changed the world – or at least the world for dozens of students at Boca Raton High School who previously ate alone.
The We Dine Together club, founded by Denis Estimon, Allie Sealy, Jean-Max Meradieu, and Kinsley Florestal to combat social isolation, is just one example of what can happen when people connect with their community and commit to serving others. And it reinforces the power of togetherness.
“You would think that high school is just one big party, but in reality, it’s definitely not,” Sealy told MassMutual. “High school is really nerve wracking, and sometimes traumatizing for certain kids. We wanted to create an atmosphere where kids can come be themselves, open up, meet new people, and start building relationships and connecting with others.”
The We Dine Together club meets once a week (on Tuesdays), giving students the opportunity to eat pizza, play games, talk politics, and plan community service hours. Its members, already nearly 100 strong, hail from a diverse mix of cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds. Some speak little English, which made it hard to find friends in a school with nearly 3,400 students, where many of their classmates already had established cliques.
To find new recruits, the club members promote their mission to all who will listen and canvas the cafeteria and courtyard to initiate conversations with students who are sitting alone.
Estimon said the idea for the club was born when he was talking with one of his teachers about the social injustice he observed in the cafeteria. "At Boca High, if you look at the cafeteria from a bird's eye view, on one side you’ll see more isolated kids, and on the other side you’ll see the football players," he told ABC News.1 "I told him it shouldn’t be this way. He challenged me to do something about it and that’s basically what I did."
For shy kids and students who are new to the school, the We Dine Together club is a safe place to interact. For extroverts, it’s an opportunity to hone their leadership skills.
"Everyone needs to be united, especially in the times that we’re living in today. And not worry about skin tone or religion. It’s just friendship and putting a smile on your face." - Yasmine Motli
If you’re interested in closing the social gap at your own school, or merely wish to connect with those outside your immediate peer group, they invite you to start a chapter of your own.
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1ABC News, “High school senior creates group ‘We Dine Together’ so no student has to eat alone,” March 16, 2017.