Last year we kicked off our campaign to combat the growing epidemic of loneliness and encouraged you to connect face-to-face with more people—your neighbor, a stranger in the grocery store, your faraway college friend. This year we're expanding the movement to schools and children. Here's how you can help.

We don't have to tell you that socializing is a vital part of what makes us human, but these days young people rely so heavily on electronic communication—roughly 78 percent of teens own a cell phone—that their real-world relationships are feeling the impact. Teens are much more likely to send text messages than actually talk to their friends. The heaviest social media users are more likely to report feeling sad, and when they do interact in person, they have a harder time picking up on nonverbal cues, according to one recent study.

Our mission: Help tweens and teens feel more included and be more inclusive. Who doesn't remember how painful it can be to navigate the sometimes desperately lonely years of middle and high school? In today's digital world, where bullying is more widespread, it's even easier to feel left out and disconnected. But technology isn't necessarily the enemy. Used for good, it can promote deeper communication and expand a person's world view. That's why we're teaming up with Skype in the Classroom, an educational platform that partners with thousands of teachers to connect students across the globe, to launch the Just Say Hello Ambassador Project.

Youth ambassadors, with the help of their teachers, will create clubs and activities that inspire fellow students to just say hello. One school might launch an everyone's-invited lunch table. Another might partner with a school in a different part of the world to swap information about their cultures. Our goal is simple—but it has the power to reconnect a generation.

What Teachers Are Saying

"My students came up with the idea to hand out Just Say Hello cards. At the beginning of each week, they get cards that they pass along to other students—someone from a different grade, someone they don't know well. They're already realizing the impact such a simple word can have, and they now look forward to finding someone new to greet."
—Jamie Bonetti, middle school teacher at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington, North Carolina

"Last year my students sent holiday cards to another middle school class in Colleyville, Texas. This year, instead of waiting until December, we're using Skype in the Classroom to chat every month, so the children have a chance to 'meet' and learn about young people just like them from a place they've never visited."
—Patty Hansen, sixth-grade teacher at Wallenpaupack Area Middle School in Hawley, Pennsylvania

"We formed a group of 14 students who said they have few friends or feel lonely. We meet every Thursday for 30 minutes during lunch and recess. In our first session, each child chose a card that contained an icebreaker question, sparking a fun discussion. The best part: Everyone left smiling. I'm hopeful this group will provide a safe space for more students to make friends."
—Arin Kress, fifth-grade teacher at Park Street Intermediate School in Grove City, Ohio

Ready to Get Involved?

Download the Just Say Hello Ambassador Starter Kit at You'll find instructions on how to invite your child's teacher to join the program and how to nominate a teacher at a school in your community.


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