The founders of Beyond Differences, Laura and Ace, wanted to create a lunchtime initiative to help students connect so that no one would feel invisible, in honor of their daughter Lili Rachel Smith, who overcame social isolation as a young adult. To learn more about her story, click here.
The first NOEA Day was held at Davidson Middle School in Marin County in 2012. Watching how the fun icebreakers led by Beyond Differences’ National Teen Board members and Davidson’s middle school student leaders brought students together was remarkable. The focus was on raising awareness of students sitting alone and encouraging classmates to reach out and include them at their table.