Moncton’s Wild Cheer Athletics is helping children with special needs in the community soar to new heights.
For the second year, cheer instructor Kaitlin Phillip is holding cheerleading classes for children with different abilitiesto be part of “Team Courageous.”
“I have grown as a person from doing this, like this is my life,” said 20-year-old Phillips.
Phillips started the program after she graduated as a teaching assistant last year.
Children of all ages meet every Saturday morning for classes where Phillips and a team of instructors work with the children one-on-one to develop their cheer skills.
They learn to roll, flip and practice routines in a non-competitive environment that supports their unique needs.
Catherine Peacock’s 11-year-old daughter, Sally joined the squad last year.
“It’s not just stunting and jumping and flipping and building her body, it is building her mind, her spirit,” Catherine said.
Before starting with team courageous, Cathering says her daughter struggled to communicate with kids her own age. Sally was born hard of hearing and depends on hearing aids and lip reading to communicate — which can be a challenge with other kids at her school.
But since joining Team Courageous, Catherine says her daughter has become more social, open and brave.
“She has made incredible progress. She has grown from being a child who was more likely to be seen playing by herself and interacting on her own and creating her own little world, to being someone who will go and say ‘hi’ to people,” Catherine said.
The entire program is geared toward making the kids with different abilities feel included and celebrated for what they can do, not what they can’t, Phillips said.
Now Sally is flying though the air with the help of a team that celebrates her different abilities.
“She gained more confidence she gained more pride in herself. All of those things that she is going to need when she is an adult and out in the world,” Catherine said.