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Local Cheerleading Squad Includes Girls With Special Needs

A local cheerleading squad is breaking barriers and including girls with special needs on the team.  Finneytown High School cheerleaders, "The Sparkle Cats," are building relationships with girls who have disabilities.  There are three young ladies with disabilities on the squad.  They're showing their school spirit by supporting the football team at the games.  The other cheerleaders say this program has taught them to reach out to others and it has also helped them build friendships.  Local 12 News Reporter Angela Ingram explains how the squad is spreading cheer and inspiring others.


At Finneytown High School, the band is playing and the team is ready as the Wildcats take on the Miami Valley Christian Academy Lions.  The Wildcats are not the only ones excited about the game.  The Sparkle Cat Cheerleaders are thrilled to be in front of the crowd.  There are 20 cheerleaders are on the squad.  The three girls with disabilities recently joined the team after the high school cheerleading coach, Dianna Watson, researched a program called, "The Sparkle Effect."  "We received a grant for $1,000 that paid for the girls' uniforms and the supplies that they needed and they gave us onsite training which they had a trainer come in and work with the cheerleaders and teach us how to teach students with disabilities how to cheer."  Cheerleader, Brennan Eve, said, "I like cheering because it's really fun and my favorite cheer is Proud to be a Sparkle Cat."


Brennan, Elisabeth Saul, and Marissa Murray all have mentors on the squad.  Cheerleader Courtney Chambers is Elisabeth's mentor.  "When she first introduced the Sparkle Effect Program, I was really excited because I wanted to see how the girls were going to interact with us and see what was going to happen and when I found out I was going to be Elisabeth's mentor, everything just fell into place because I was really excited to be with her."


Parents say the girls are getting an experience that is life-changing.  In an age when some students are bullied, these girls are showing the true meaning of team spirit.


The Sparkle Effect has 102 similar squads or dance teams nationwide, but Coach Watson says Finneytown is the only Sparkle Effect squad in the Cincinnati area at this point.  However, Watson has been getting requests for information from other school administrators about how they can start the program at their schools. 


There is a link to we have a link to The Sparkle Effect website.  Click the red "Get It" button for more information.




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