Wingman 1

On December 14, 2012 I went to school, just like any other day.  It was a Friday, and Miss O was home sick with Mr. O.  When lockdown was called early in the afternoon I was annoyed… until it went on a little too long.

I don’t think there are many parents who don’t remember where they were when they heard the news of what happened that day at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  It was a tragedy so horrific that it touched the entire world and brought us all together in grief and prayer for the 26 angels sent to heaven that day.

The families and friends of those lost will most likely never stop grieving their loved ones, but what I have seen in the days, weeks, and months since is a community that is embracing love.

Many of the families of those lost at Sandy Hook have started working with charities, or started their own charities, in memory of their loved one.  One in particular has touched my heart, and I’d like to share it with you.

Dylan Hockley was a 1st grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.  He was passionate about the moon, garlic bread, the color purple, computer games, according to his parents, and had an infectious laugh.

Dylan was also autistic.  He sometimes had trouble fitting in and needed a little extra help.   For him, one person taking a moment to explain directions again, or make sure he was included, made all the difference in the world.

Ian and Nicole Hockley, Dylan’s parents, want to make sure that every kid, autistic or not, has that kind of support. Working with Erin and Jeromie Schumacher, two athletics coaches from Connecticut, they want to help teachers, students, coaches, and communities understand that we are all responsible for one another.

Wingman was born.

Starting in 3 local middle schools, the Hockleys are working with kids and staff to affect change.

The Wingman program is designed for all children to experience. Wingman is based on leadership principles, peer modeling and recognizing positive behaviors in all children.  The primary goal is to recognize children for their unique and individual strengths, improving self-image and self-confidence while strengthening camaraderie and developing a stronger community. Ultimately we dissolve the “us” and “them” barrier, making it every child’s responsibility to treat one another with kindness and respect, not just the child with differences.  In so doing, all children become one another’s “Wingman”.

What is a Wingman?

A Wingman is an extraordinary person, one who goes beyond every day niceties and actively improves the lives of those around them.  He treats everyone with respect, kindness, and compassion.  She helps those in need, even those without the ability to ask for help.  His actions make his family, community, school, or team a better place.  She is a leader, empowering others to find their own strength, take responsibility, and find solutions to problems.

What does a Wingman do?

  • Makes an active, ongoing effort to include everyone
  • Offers help to those in need
  • Volunteers
  • Consistently acts as a positive role models, inspiring others to do the same
  • Behaves in a manner that goes above and beyond what is expected of them

What can you do to help?

There are lots of ways to get involved and support the Wingman program.

Donate.  Dylan’s Wings of Change is growing and can use all the help they can get.  If you’d like to donate to this amazing cause, click here to be taken to their CrowdRise page.

Participate.  Join the Dylan’s Wings of Change team for the NYC Marathon, Ragnar Relay Cape Cod, or Reach the Beach.  If you’re not in the Sandy Hook area, no worries!  Start a team at your local races.  Contact DWC for more information.

Spread the Word.  This is something everyone can do.  Don’t let this post stop at your screen.  Share it, tweet it, pin it.  Use the hashtag #iamawingman to share acts of love and kindness.

Mark your calendar.  December 14 I would like each of you to post, tweet, share, instagram, snapchat, google, and whatever else there is messages of hope, love, inspiration and support.  Use the hashtag #iamawingman in every post and let’s flood the internet with the power of love.

[bctt tweet=”December 14 join us for #iamawingman day. Let’s fill the internet with love on the 3rd anniversary of #sandyhook #wechooselove”]

The Wingman Program was developed after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Check out how 1 family is choosing love and inspiring others to be Sandy Hook Strong.