Teen Student Starts Cheerleading Squad For Disabled Girls

julia competelli-pizza

Valencia High School student Julia Competelli-Pizza (yes, she has a super rad name!) is one amazing girl with a huge heart. The Californian teen is a cheerleader at her school, but not the average type you would see in the movies, because she actually cares about people other than herself.

Her fellow student and neighbor Tamara Wilson is a special needs student, but expressed desire to be part of the cheerleading squad. But instead of trying to integrate her into the existing group, Competelli-Pizza went one step further and with the help of Wilson created a whole new squad where more disabled students could join in and not feel excluded because of their special needs.

“That’s something that I thought she could do, so we hooked it up together and we got with the school and made our own cheer team,” she told ABC7 local news. Last year, she helped organize the Valencia Star Cheer Team, for all special-needs students The squad – which now performs at many of the school’s athletic games.

The special education teacher Lydia Bauer spoke to the news team about how in awe she was of Julia’s efforts and how it will challenge the way society views these types of students with needs. “You can’t do something like that and blur the lines that society makes, separating everybody, without this incredible character.”

And Julia too knows what an important and special thing she is doing. “It warms your heart when you look at them, and when they have a dream and you can fulfill their dream. It’s just the best feeling in the world,” she said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

It seems she is part of a growing epidemic of teens in America who are working hard to change the stereotyped image of cheerleaders to a more inclusive and diverse group of kids.

Three years ago, English teacher Stephanie Martinez from San Clemens High School in Texas started a cheer squad that was unlike any other. After being approached by a student who wanted to see a more inclusive cheerleading team, Ms. Martinez took it upon herself to create it. They are called the Buffalo Sparklers, a squad of four cheerleaders with disabilities.

Buffalo Sparklers

She told the local Texas news in February 2013 the best part of starting a squad like this is seeing how the girls interact with each other in a positive and inspiring way. “It’s why I teach,” she said. “To see kids love each other.”

The Buffalo Sparklers was founded with the help of Sparkle Effect, a national program that helps teens begin inclusive cheer leading and dance programs.

How powerful to see teenage girls using their skills and extra curricular time to help and empower other students to achieve their dreams. It’s stories like this that make us realize having a madam president in the United States is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Perhaps the media needs to put more time and effort into stories like this, rather than just the usual trash and gossip we see dominating the headlines.


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