With their big smiles, impressive dance moves (one member of the squad says she feels like she's in a Katy Perry music video), and school spirit, Boca Raton High School's 'special' cheerleaders have enough positive energy and sassiness to make the entire student body want to get up and dance in the middle of a pep rally as if they were in an episode of Glee.
The seven girls on the new spirit squad perform alongside the school's cheerleaders and dance team, and their performances are met by cheers and standing ovations from the students. Three members of the junior varsity cheerleading team train with the spirit squad during weekly after-school practices.
Although the girls struggle with disabilities -- one member of the squad has suffered from cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder since she was a child -- their undying optimism and enthusiasm are an inspiration to the entire school.
Cheerleading Coach Tiffany O'Bryan said to the Sun Sentinel, "We like to put our Spirit Squad in front of the performance... They are our stars, because they remind us that life is hopeful and joyous no matter how large or encompassing an obstacle may be."
The school's special education cheerleading program has received an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from school administrators, the student body, and the cheerleaders themselves. But the girls aren't just stars at school, either -- the group performed at both their high school's pep rally and the Boca Raton holiday parade last week, and has plans to expand for next year.
Another inspiring high school sports program, the Unified Sports Program, will go into effect in Arizona in 2012. In partnership with Special Olympics Arizona, the program will create teams and partner typical student athletes with athletes with mental disabilities in sports such as track and field, basketball, and cheerleading.