Newtown mom helping to make Sudbury schools safer - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

Newtown mom helping to make Sudbury schools safer

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It's a scene playing out too often at schools across the country. Just this week, two students died after another school shooting.

But one local school is about to take a new step in protecting our children. The program will start next week at Sudbury and is the first of its kind in New England.

The program is being put into place by a mother who lost her daughter in the Newtown, Conn. shooting. She hopes this program will help other families avoid her immeasurable pain.

Six-year-old Josephine ‘Joey’ Gay had a fearless spirit, had autism and was a fighter.

She was killed along with 19 other children in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting.

“When she was in this life there were extraordinary challenges for her, she was non-verbal, she was autistic, but she never gave up. She showed up every day with a smile on her face and I take that with me, I keep that with me, I have to stay positive because that’s what she would want me to do,” Joey’s mom, Michele Gay, said.

Since the tragedy, Michele moved with her family to the Boston area and has been working to make schools safer.

“This is a way for me to take control of our loss and our tragedy and find some meaning in it,” she said.

With Michele's help, the town of Sudbury will be the first in the area to use a new system to help police react faster in a crisis.

“When seconds can help saves lives it’s just an incredible opportunity for us,” Sudbury Police Chief Scott Nix said.

The system, NaviGate, is a computer program that gives first responders a crucial look inside a school by piecing together recent pictures to let police see every inch of the building.

“To be able to familiarize themselves with the 360 degree photos, know where doors are, which way the hinges are located, what other places somebody might be able to hide,” Nix said.

There have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. The latest was in Oregon, where a high school freshman opened fire in a locker room and killed a classmate.

“My stomach is in knots all over again when the news comes out. I know the feeling of the families sitting there waiting for the information. It is incredibly slow and time stops and I just sit and I pray for them,” Gay said.

Having lived through her own tragedy, Michele knows what a difference a live picture inside the school could make.

The system in Sudbury could potentially do that in the future: adding live cameras that could show police an attack as it unfolds.

“How powerful it would it be to actually have dispatchers be able to see live what is actually transpiring, providing responders with firsthand information as they are on the way arriving,” Nix said.

Michele said this was meaningful change fueled by the spirit of a beautiful little girl.

“We keep all the smiles and all of that joy very close to our hearts and inspiring all that we do,” Gay said.

The company that makes this system donated the program to the town of Sudbury, where it is being used in the schools and municipal buildings.

Gay, a former teacher, runs an organization called Safe and Sound Schools, which lets communities know what kind of technology is available to make their schools safer .

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