Seven years ago, the world mourned alongside the families of the children that were lost in the Sandy Hook shooting. Since then, many of the families and friends of the victims have started or engaged with charities to bring about gun reform.
The Hockley family lost their six-year-old son Dylan on that day, but they knew they wanted to do something different, because Dylan was just a little bit different. He had autism. Instead of focusing on how Dylan lost his life, Ian and Nicole Hockley chose to start a foundation that would instead celebrate the way he lived his life and help kids just like him. So, they founded Dylan’s Wings of Change.
Children with autism can struggle to follow complex instructions or become frustrated when they are unable to communicate. This can make group activities that aren’t geared towards them challenging, so often children like Dylan end up on the sidelines. And nobody wants to feel left out.
Through an amazing program called Wingman, Dylan’s Wings of Change hopes to change the way today’s youth view their classmates with developmental disabilities. With a nationwide web of integrated school programs and dance classes, the Hockleys hope that they can help future generations become more inclusive, caring and understanding.
The programs stress team-bonding and trust-building as the keys to teaching young people that kids with autism and other developmental disabilities aren’t so different after all. The school programs and dance classes allow kids with autism to participate, while helping unaffected kids understand how their peers with developmental disabilities are just like them.
There are lots of ways to get involved if you want to be a Wingman! You can donate, you can run a race, or you can simply munch on some Chi-Town Chow Down and use code WINGMAN to support Dylan’s family’s vision for a brighter future for all kids.