Special Needs Cheerleading Squad Delivers Spirit

Sunday, February 1st 2009, 9:27 pm
By: News On 6

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9 for NewsOn6.com

OKLAHOMA CITY -- For the first time in Oklahoma, a cheerleading coach has started a squad for kids and young adults with special needs.

Head Coach David Owens started the group in Bethany, which inspired other coaches in a couple of other cities around Oklahoma to start a similar program.

The kids that make up Empire Elite Cheerleading squad are unlike any other cheerleaders promoting spirit.

Hannah for instance, will practice anywhere.

"She'll do the cheer in the middle of the house," Hannah's father John Jensen said. "She'll do the cheer in the middle of the mall. You've got to be ready for Hannah to do the cheer."

Hannah has Dandy-Walker malformation and Wolf-Hirschorn disorder. The 10-year-old joined the team at its inception a year-and-a-half ago. Brandon, another team member has Down syndrome.

"For years, he went to his sister's competitions, and he'd be sitting up in the stands going, ‘When is it my turn? When is it my turn?'"

Children of all ages, sizes and disabilities comprise the elite team. Coaches are working to prepare them for competition.

The squad's practices have helped Brandon's muscle tone and Hannah's self confidence.

"Pretty special to see this, to see the joy on her face," Jensen said.

They've got spirit, with a special attitude.