Volunteers offer program for special needs cheerleaders - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Volunteers offer program for special needs cheerleaders

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A special needs cheerleading program, called the Sparkles Cheering Squad, is getting the chance to feel just like everyone else, and all while earning medals. A special needs cheerleading program, called the Sparkles Cheering Squad, is getting the chance to feel just like everyone else, and all while earning medals.
AUBURN, Ga. -

In Barrow County, there's something to cheer about! A special needs cheerleading program, called the Sparkles Cheering Squad, is getting the chance to feel just like everyone else, and all while earning medals.

Any cheerleader may tell you that what they do takes focus and talent. In addition to the skill and enthusiasm, the special needs cheerleaders face some challenges.

"Megan is going to be 21 and she has severe epilepsy, developmental delay and intermittent explosive disorder," Megan's mother, Sherri Dickens.

On the days Megan comes to the Extreme Tumbling Training Center in Auburn, she's got spirit. Megan and other girls are part of the Sparkles Cheering Squad. They're coached by former Falcons cheerleader Tiffany Watt and competitive cheering coach Christina Shuster.

"The same way that we would teach our regular all-star team, we teach them the same exact way: Running, tumbling, openings, stunts, the whole nine yards," said Schuster

More than 50 volunteers offer their time and expertise to help the girls learn routines that they perform in competitions.

"They just love performing and when we go on stage, because they compete on stage, lights, camera, action, the full deal when it's competition time, and they really just love smiling on stage," said Watt

The girls' parents love the fact that their children are getting great exercise and able to socialize. Cyndi White, mother of 13-year-old Emily, says her daughter loves the program.

"I'm just so proud of her and I'm so thrilled that she gets to showcase what she's really good at. And that people get to see how more alike other kids she is than how different she is. I just beam from ear to ear," said White.

Smiling is all anyone can do when watching them as they cheer their hearts out.

The Sparkles Cheering Squad is completely free of charge, and that includes all their uniforms and competition entrance fees. They want more members of the squad, and they're having an open house on August 26, from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants of all ages and abilities are welcome.

More Information:

The Extreme Tumbling Training Center will host an Open House for its Special Needs Cheerleading Program on August 26, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at 1525 University Dr., in Auburn. The non-profit program is free. New participants of any age are always welcome. For more information, call 770-680-5231 and leave a message for Christina Schuster, and specify interest in special needs cheerleading.

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