The Sparkle Effect

Students in the special education program shine alongside varsity cheerleaders

March 8, 2016

The spotlight reflects a single sliver off of a pom-pom. The jewels on uniforms shine as vibrantly as the smiles plastered across faces. But nothing is as bright as the twinkle in a student’s eye while they relish the opportunity to perform as a cheerleader. This is called the Sparkle Effect.

“Sparkle cheer is an organization where MN Special Education kids have the opportunity to experience life as a varsity cheerleader. We have weekly practices where we go over our cheers, our half time performance, and proper game day etiquette,” senior head coach Paige Telley said.

The Sparkle Cheer program creates opportunities for strong friendships, while also increasing self-confidence and leadership for everyone who is involved.

“Sparkle cheer really helps to boost the self-confidence of the members on the team by creating an environment of inclusion and positivity. Spending two years with most of the cheerleaders has really allowed all of us to develop strong relationships with each member,” senior Ashlyn Therkelsen said.

When asking MN students with disabilities if they enjoy the sparkle cheer program, everyone responded with an enthusiastic yes! Therkelsen’s cheer buddy, senior Ashlee Archer, speaks of how they’ve become good friends in the past two years.
“I’ve had Ashlyn in the past two years. We’re pretty close,” Archer said.

The MN special education program has lacked visibility in the past, but the enactment of the Sparkle Cheer program has promoted inclusion and familiarity amongst students.

“I’m so glad that we started doing this. It has made a big difference when the students walk through the hallway; we have lots of people stopping and saying hello. I love the connection with them and their cheer buddies, it’s amazing,” special education teacher Tricia Rohde said.

The MN special education program spoke with freshman Mariyka Campbell when she was an 8th grader about being a cheerleader.
“We really like [sparkle cheer]. I like the jumping, and the dancing,” Campbell said.

Campbell, along with sophomore Kaleigh Hamrick, agree that the best part of the program is cheering at the games and performing the dances.

“When we did our last performance at the varsity boys basketball game halftime, hearing the amount of cheering for our Sparkles team was really inspiring and showed that the mission of Sparkles cheerleading is totally being received by Millard North students, staff, and family!” Therkelsen said.

This mission is being expertly promoted by MN. The Sparkle Effect originally aimed to bring together students with and without disabilities, which is exactly what it’s doing within the school.

“The goal was to promote inclusion within the school, and I think that we satisfy this mission. MNVC members have gone to Sparkle members’ birthday celebrations, they eat lunch together, and cheer together. It really is an amazing and fun bond. Everybody leaves a better person after Sparkle Cheer- I truly believe that,” Sparkle Cheer coordinator Allison Goodman said.

Sparkle is defined in the dictionary as to shine brightly with flashes of light, which is exactly what the MN cheer program has accomplished. The Sparkle cheerleaders glimmer as strongly as flashes of light that finally get their chance to shine.

“We all have so much fun getting together and cheering our little hearts out. It means the world to the Sparkle cheerleaders to be able to cheer in front of the whole school,” Telley said.

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