Liberty High Debuts All-Inclusive Cheer Team

posted by WMT News/KCRG-TV9 - 

NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Brand new at Liberty High School this year, a cheerleading team is combining talents with students of all abilities calling themselves the Sparkles.

School officials say they wanted a way for students with all types of abilities to interact with each other and learn from each other.

The Sparkles are made of a team of 16 students.

But what sets them apart from any ordinary cheerleading team is that their members are both students with and without disabilities.

Mckenna Schroeder, a team captain, came up with the idea last year to bring the Sparkles to the high school.

Schroeder says the students are excited because they get to practice, hang out with their partners and learn some new moves.

"For me, I learned that it doesn't matter what you are. You can do anything really because some of the even Gen Ed kids can't do a forward roll. They're learning with their partner so it's super cool to see that," says Schroeder.

Jamie Shults, a parent whose 15-year-old is in the program, says it has helped his daughter Madison with her disability and he hopes it'll help other students too.

"With these kinds of programs, it integrates them in a way that probably one of the biggest things you have with kids that are special. Is how do you get them integrated into society after school? And these opportunities like this really afford that. So when they get out into the real world it makes life more social and more acceptable like that," says Shults.

Shults says he would like to see more schools in the area consider adding a Sparkle team to their high school.

The Sparkle Effect is a non-profit started in 2008 by a 15-year-old Iowan to help high schools and universities be more inclusive.

Each team that participates gets a $2,000 grant to help buy uniforms.

Liberty High School is the 212th team in the Sparkle Effect.. but they still need help getting uniforms.

The school is still $600 short of getting all their uniforms.

If you would like to help, you can e-mail uber.lillian@iowacityschools.org

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