MONMOUTH, NJ: Colts Neck Dance and Performing Arts Academy has long been known as a top notch studio for dance instruction and various performing arts programs. However the outstanding programs in their studio go beyond performing arts. The leadership team at Colts Neck Dance understands the mind body connection and is leading the way in inspiring local youth to become more mindful and respectful of one another. Social isolation and bullying are too common with children and teens everywhere, and Colts Neck Dance takes extra steps to ensure that they do their best to maintain a caring, supportive and kind environment for every dancer.
Last week as part of their ongoing initiatives, Colts Neck Dance launched the 'Wingman for Dance Program' for all of their students. The Wingman Program is full of resources to further create an environment of kindness, compassion and inclusion in schools, camps, sports and dance studios. Wingman is a youth-led social and emotional program created by "Dylan's Wings Of Change," a foundation dedicated to the memory of Dylan Hockley, one of the first grade victims of the Sandy Hook shootings on December 14, 2012. According to Dylan's father, "Dylan had autism, and was able to navigate the world and enjoy life so much more when those around him would step up and be his Wingman".
The Wingman Program has five core values:
-Winning isn't everything
-Never shut someone down
-Go above and beyond
-Step up and take the lead
Owner of Colts Neck Dance, Sheri Ladley-Calamusa commented; "We decided to launch our Wingman for Dance program this month with respect to October being National Bullying Prevention Month. We are honored to represent Wingman. It's such a wonderful tribute to Dylan's memory. Feeling included is something everyone should share and we make kindness and inclusion a natural part of our environment at Colts Neck Dance."
The Wingman logo is a purple butterfly and here is a beautiful explanation behind the design as stated on the Wingman website:
The Wingman logo was chosen very carefully and is extremely special. The image is strong, like a superhero’s badge representing how a true Wingman strives to go above and beyond. Dylan’s favorite color was purple. He would come home from school each day proudly carrying a picture he had made from purple dots.
“ Like many people on the spectrum, Dylan demonstrated several aspects of repetitive movement. Autistic individuals are sometimes known to rock their bodies, roll their heads or flap their hands. Dylan was a flapper. Whenever he got excited or happy, he jumped up and down and flapped as fast as he could. One day I asked Dylan, “Why do you flap?” In all honesty, because Dylan had under-developed language skills, I wasn’t expecting him to answer. But he did. He said, “Because I am a beautiful butterfly.”
It has been said that something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a hurricane halfway around the world. That a small change or single occurrence in one place can result in large differences elsewhere. It redefines the future.
Dylan is our butterfly.”
—Nicole Hockley, Memorial Service to Dylan, December 21st, 2012