Written by Catherine Harris Small, Guidance Counselor, Riversprings Middle School Friday, 26 October 2012 00:35
On October 5, 2012 the new spirit group appropriately named “Spirit Paws” made their debut at the Abilities in the Park picnic celebration in Crawfordville's Hudson Park.
What makes this event so special is that Abilities in the Park focuses on the abilities of those who have “disabilities”. These “abilities” are skills, talents and strengths that give a person the potential to be successful in life. A month before the event, the Riversprings Middle School Cheerleaders began training with the Spirit Paws in their classroom to teach them routines and dances to perform at the event.
The students of “Spirit Paws” have disabilities that may cause them to have special needs, but through this experience I and others have seen that these students also have strong “abilities” that help them to be successful. Many of the "Spirit Paws" members deal with great challenges, including Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, physical handicaps, and hearing disabilities. The cheerleaders realized that they would have to approach the job of teaching these students in a different way than they were used to teaching their own squad members. With this in mind, they successfully taught the students a cheer and dance routine to be performed at the Abilities in the Park event.
On the day of the performance, the Spirit Paws came ready to shine, proudly displaying new uniforms. The performance was amazing as was the newly formed relationships between the RMS cheerleaders and the members of Spirit Paws.
During the first week of December the Spirit Paws will be traveling with the RMS cheerleaders to their competitions at the American National Championships in Perry, Florida and Florida State University Cheerleading Competition/Showcase. Both groups will go, one representing the sport of cheerleading and the other representing the spirit of Riversprings Middle School. The Spirit Paws and RMS Cheerleaders will also be marching in the Wakulla County Veteran’s Day Parade and other events where they will continue to support each other.
Though the park event is over and the “abilities” of the Spirit Paws were seen, it has grown into so much more because of the compassion of so many adults and individuals, and it started with one coach, 19 cheerleaders and eight students in a classroom. It was only nine days of training and one day to perform for less than five minutes, but the experience for all those involved will last a lifetime.
Catherine Harris Small
RMS Cheerleading Coach
RMS Guidance Counselor
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