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Nava R. Silton, Ph.D

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A collection of stories, experiences and uplifting tales regarding the world of disabilities and the individuals who have them.

Cheer Team Welcomes Student With Special Needs Onto The Team

Nava Silton

Aeris Melvin, a 17 year old with special needs from Freeport, Florida, loves her school and is not afraid to show it. She originally expressed her school spirit in the form of a bulldog suit as the team mascot, but she realized she wanted to do something more. Watching the cheerleaders dance, stunt and cheer made her realize that that was what she wanted to be doing. In the spring, Aeris tried out for the cheerleading team, but unfortunately did not make it. Seeing how much Aeris wanted to be a cheerleader, her mom approached the school principal to see if Aeris could be a part of the team in any capacity. The cheer coach agreed to having Aeris come to practice once a week. The other girls on the team were excited to have Aeris and Aeris quickly exceeded everyone’s expectations. She is now a full-blown cheerleader, practicing with the team for two hours four days a week, learning routines and even doing stunts. Cheerleading has benefited Aeris tremendously. Before cheerleading, Aeris had difficulty communicating and sometimes did not communicate at all, now she is learning to use words without having to use sign language she previously depended on. Not only has cheerleading benefited Aeris, but the team has benefitted from having Aeris on the team. The team said it has been their best year yet and cite Aeris’ contagious smile as a reason why.  Read more about Aeris and her team here:

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock / Getty Images