Sandy Hook father touts anti-bullying program in NJ

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HIGH BRIDGE -

The father of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting was in Hunterdon County Monday to talk about the anti-bullying program he started in his son’s honor.

Ian Hockley’s 6-year-old son Dylan, along with 25 others, was killed 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. 

Hockley says his mission is simple: To help students become more accepting and welcoming in their schools. The Wingman Program seeks to help students who may feel left out and to inspire students to be friends with one another.

"Once you’ve got a community that accepts each other for who they are, where no one feels excluded, the whole atmosphere of the school will change and everybody they can be themselves,” he says.

RELATED: Mom who lost daughter to suicide warns of dangers of bullying

Hockley says his son was autistic and often had trouble feeling accepted by other students.

"There's a little bit of Dylan in all of us. There's always a time when we wish there was someone there with a helping hand, that person being a wingman,” he says.

Hockley visited High Bridge Middle School Monday, where 21 students were chosen to become leaders of the program.

Eight-grader Charlie Curtin says that he knows that this program is needed among his classmates.

"I’ve seen a couple of kids in school just [being]…put down or just not being included as much, kind of sitting off to the side during activities,” he says. “This is kind of an opportunity to change that and get them to join in with the group.”

Principal Rich Kolton says that the program will improve the school.

"They’re learning how to listen to each other, to work out their differences and to just be a change-agent to help each other succeed,” he says.

High Bridge Middle School is the first school to bring the Wingman Program to New Jersey. 

The Hockley Family started the program in their home state of Connecticut.

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