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Program Gives Students with Disabilities Chance to Cheer with Varsity Team

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Program Gives Students with Disabilities Chance to Cheer with Varsity Team

By Lindsey Theis. CREATED Nov 25, 2013

Omaha, NE - Four years ago, Lindsey Holly, the special education teacher at North High had a vision to make a difference in the lives of her students.

"There's so many things that my students might not be able to do, might not be able to participate in. For their parents to see another avenue open up, that's wonderful," she said.

Holly had heard of a program originally formed in Iowa called Sparkle Cheer or the Sparkle Effect. The innovative program is student-run and empowers teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in school-based cheerleading and dance programs. The teams are truly inclusive, with cheerleaders cheering at football games, basketball games, and pep rallies alongside the Sparkles.

"I went to school a lot of years ago, and quite frankly, the special-ed students weren't even really in the main building. They were ostracized," North Athletic Director Jim Savio said. "This program is just great."

Since then, at least four schools in the Omaha metro area have adopted programs.

This year, Millard North High School Cheerleaders added the program to their school.

"I want this to be the start. There will be dance teams that are all inclusive to people with disabilities. There will be football teams, and basketball teams, and soccer," Madeline Galdamez, Varsity Cheerleader said.