3 Cheers For The Sparkle Effect

Cheerleading is a sport that offers athletes personal growth. Cheerleaders learn to support the efforts of their athletic teams, and each other all while leading their school in spirit and pride. Spirit squad members learn traits like cooperation, confidence, good sportsmanlike conduct, strength of character and communication.

Cheer programs often produce successful student athletes who go on to inspire and lead others. Cheerleaders are the most visible leaders in a school and apply these lessons later in life to create fulfilling careers and strong relationships. Many cheerleading programs also give back through community service or by raising money for charitable causes. One prominent cheer program in Iowa goes the extra mile.

Sarah Cronck is a coach at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. She grew up with an autistic brother. Examining his struggle to connect with other students in their school inspired Sarah to start The Sparkle Effect. It’s a team that helps autistic children build confidence and identify with their community through cheerleading. Because of Sarah and her efforts, there are over 70 Sparkle teams across the United States.

The Sparkle Effect has inspired many cheerleaders and coaches to reach out in their own neighborhoods and embrace inclusion. The respected organization has been recognized for their efforts many times and has even received a $100,000 award from the Do Something organization.

The movement has become so popular that it has popped up all over the media. Stories about Sparkle Effect teams have materialized on Oprah, MTV, in People Magazine, and many local new stations. I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Cronck several times at the Iowa Cheer Coaches Association Conference. Her enthusiasm for her cause is infectious. Her determination is strong and her impact has been great. She is a leader in her community and within the sport of cheerleading.

“The Sparkle Effect continues to profoundly change the lives and outlooks of participating students with and without disabilities, replacing insecurity with confidence and joy. In the United States today, athletes are taught to perfect their skills, to conquer, to win. Sparkle Effect teams are not about perfection, they are about connection.” – Thesparkleeffect.org

To learn more about The Sparkle Effect or to start your own team, visit the website at: http://www.thesparkleeffect.org

To learn more about the Do Something organization visit the website at: http://www.dosomething.org/