A Paulding county mom took matters in her own hands after her special needs daughter was rejected from local cheer gyms and helped create Paulding County Shining Stars, a cheer squad for special needs athletes.
When Angela Macon and her family moved to Dallas around six weeks ago, Macon knew her 17-year-old daughter Abby wanted to continue cheering. Abby cheered on a competitive special needs team called United Cheerleading Pythons’ Superstar Squad in their hometown.
“Abby fell in love with cheerleading and it’s definitely become her identity and passion,” Macon said. “On any given week she will still put her old uniform on and wear it in lieu of normal clothes and wear it proudly even to places like the grocery store.”
When Abby’s mother began calling around Paulding County, none of the local gyms offered a special needs cheer team.
“It was so disappointing when I found out that Paulding didn’t have any type of cheerleading opportunities here for Abby,” Macon said. “Even the gyms I did reach told me they had nothing that would be a good fit for Abby even to do Gymnastics. Some places I got someone to answer the phone and was politely told they offer nothing for special needs and other places I had to leave a voice mail and Email but none were returned.”
Macon said the only programs she could find were in another city outside of the county. Macon said many of the gyms she called did not ask about Abby’s specific needs, they just “made up their mind without meeting her.”
So Macon took to Facebook for help, where she met Shrean Fawcett. Fawcett works and coaches with a program called GA-CIM Cheerleading, an organization with a local cheer squad geared for those who are more typical athletes that come from financially unprivileged homes or maybe single parent homes.
“Our program at Champions In Motion is all about youth empowerment,” Fawcett said. “We have classes for students of all skill levels and abilities. I like to call us an “equal opportunity cheer team” because we never turn a youth athlete away.”
With help from Macon, Fawcett started Paulding County Shining Stars for special needs athletes around the county. All coaches are handpicked and undergo training through the Special Olympics. Classes are completely free for special needs students. Macon said she and Fawcett are in the beginning phase or finding community members interested in joining the team.
“I can promise this....with the right coaches (volunteers who are trained) this team will most certainly become something that will shock the county of Paulding and show them these athletes will be defined by their abilities and not their disabilities,” Macon said.
“I hope the community can see how important it is that children/teens like mine are not made to feel ‘incapable,’” Macon continued. “They are certainly capable.”