On the morning of her husband’s birthday, school teacher Sophie Whitehouse checked her email. What she read would change her life – and the life of thousands of children.
“I got an email from a Year 11 student, telling me how distressed they were about school, ” Sophie explains.
“Right then, I knew I had to do something.”
Deciding that “this has got to stop,” Sophie immediately took action.
“I was literally in bed and I decided to order 500 wristbands,” the mother of two recalls.
The wristbands were to be part of a campaign to help prevent the intense loneliness that many primary school children experience. Sophie named the campaign, “You Can Sit With Me“.
The concept is simple. The wristbands are worn by “ambassadors”, identifying them as available for any child to approach them for company.
“The child will be welcome, no questions asked,” Sophie explains. Any child, no matter their age, race, or gender, will be included.
The idea works both ways, as wristband-wearers also assume the task of identifying solitary kids and offering friendship; which is why Sophie sees the campaign as one of inclusivity.
“The point of the campaign is to teach kids tolerance and kindness, but also resilience. The bright yellow band is a clear sign to a lonely child that they won’t be rejected if they ask that child for company – so it helps that child build its confidence.”
The bands aren’t distributed to all children – only those who can demonstrate their willingness to be open and kind to everyone.
“We don’t want the bands to be a fad. They need to mean something in the message they send.”