CANNONSBURG — There was a little more sparkle on the sidelines at the Boyd County High School football game on Friday than fans may typically see from the cheerleaders.
Four special needs students joined in with other varsity members to cheer on the Lions for the first quarter. Together, the team is called the Sparkle Effect, and is part of a nationwide non-profit organization that brings together students with and without disabilities through cheerleading and dance teams.
Boyd County’s team is the only one of its kind in the state of Kentucky. The only requirements to become part of the team are that there must be at least four special needs members, and at least six cheerleaders. Together, the group pumps up the crowd with their matching uniforms.
Emily Grubb, a senior, is the reason behind the unique team.
She noticed there were not many physical activities the special needs students could participate in, so she arranged for some students to cheer at a game. Once it happened, her cheer coach introduced her to the Sparkle Effect, and Grubb ran with it.
“They’ve been excited, I’ve been excited,” she said.
The team practices at least twice a week and will cheer at four fall games and six winter games.
The Sparkle Effect has opened doors for the special needs members to not only make them feel accepted, but to provide them with opportunities that they have not had before.
Karen Wurts’ daughter, Haylee, is an 11th grader with special needs that is on the team. She said Haylee has always aspired to be a cheerleader, but has never had the chance to act on it.
`Now she is more confident than ever.
“She seems more involved in her school, and she seems to enjoy it so much more,” said Wurts. “She’s super excited about it, enthusiastic, so it’s been a good thing.”
Cade Potter, another special needs member, is also involved in band and golf. His mother, Tina, said she believes the more involvement he has the better.
She explained that he loves to dance and cheer — which is very obvious to anyone that watches him along his teammates.
“It’s just been precious to see the smile on his face and he has such a loving personality anyway, so the more the better for him,” said Tina.
Since Grubb is a senior, she has appointed a new cheerleader to lead the Sparkle Effect next year. The next goal the group has for the current year is to learn the school fight song before basketball season.
Please go to the Daily Independent website for pictures and more about this story. http://www.dailyindependent.com/news/champions-of-the-sparkle-effect/article_1f0f8218-941a-11e6-91ee-7f370a055777.html