A Special-Needs Cheerleading Team Has Their Heart Set on Attending Nationals
The Elite Academy Angels are ready to bring it on! This young group of cheerleaders have competed regionally in Utah and nationally in California for the past four years.
This year, they're eager to compete again in the annual USA All-Star Championships which are held in Anaheim, California between March 28 and 29. The team even started a GoFundMe page to get support for a chance to show their cheerleading spirit.
Morgan Brian, 23, is the head coach for the Angels and a former high school cheerleader. As a teen, Brian often stopped by her mom's special-needs class to spend time with high schoolers who had DS and other learning disabilities. She was inspired by her friends to start the cheerleading squad for kids with special needs.
"I thought, 'Why not give kids with special needs the same opportunity?'" Brian told People. "They have a lot of spirit, they're energetic and they want to learn. It seemed like a natural fit."
She also wanted to teach her kids the importance of team unity, friendship, and exercise. Currently, she teaches cheerleading to 19 kids (18 girls with Down syndrome and 1 boy with autism). And starting next year, she will teach cheerleading moves to a teen with cerebral palsy. Her hope is to connect more kids with different types of special needs to cheerleading.
Kecia Cox, whose daughter Bree, 8, is on the current team, is thankful for the outlet. "[W]th this group, the barriers are taken down and the kids are able to just be themselves," she said. "For a few moments, these kids' differences don't matter – they're just as able and accepted as anyone else. The crowds are always brought to their feet and we are brought to tears."
Watch a video of The Elite Academy Angels performing a cheer routine!
Photo of the Elite Academy Angels courtesy of their GoFundMe page