Some young girls who have been impacted physically, mentally and emotionally by disabilities are being impacted in a positive way by an activity that lets them experience joy the way children should.
Brittany Carpenter, co-owner of the Royalty Athletix competitive cheer organization in Columbus, has used cheerleading as a way to make a significant difference in the lives of young girls dealing with disabilities.
The Angels, for ages 7 to 13, is a squad of nine girls with special needs — whether Down syndrome, autism or other disabilities — who have a desire and need to participate in activities just like other children.
With the help of Carpenter and volunteers, members of the Angels are learning physical and social skills through the competitive cheerleading program.
They tumble, turn cartwheels, jump, cheer and even climb modified pyramids. Members practice for 45 minutes on Sundays and participate in five to seven competitions or community events annually.
Family members say the girls love participating, have benefited from the team feeling by improving socially in school, have shown improvement in their school work and behavior, and have more confidence.
Those are tremendous impacts in the lives of girls, and demonstrate how personal connections, caring and inclusion can make a tremendous difference.