Sarah Cronk grew up watching her older brother, Charlie, struggle to make friends due to his disability. Her brother would often eat alone in the nurse’s office after being turned away from table after table. It wasn’t until a popular swim team captain invited Charlie to sit at his lunch table and encouraged him to join the swim team that his life began to turn around. Sarah was moved to take action when she witnessed Charlie’s confidence soar from this simple act of kindness. She was determined to find a way to include students with disabilities at her high school, who like Charlie, were marginalized and excluded.
Over 5 million students with disabilities attend public schools in the United States; yet most school sports and activities are not designed to accommodate them. As a result, students with disabilities are often excluded from high school sports and the social opportunities they offer.
In 2008, Sarah created and coached the nation’s first inclusive cheerleading squad. One year later, she established The Sparkle Effect, Inc. Since its inception, Sarah has generated over 100 inclusive cheerleading and dance teams in middle schools, high schools and colleges across the United States.
UNIFORMS: Students on disadvantaged Sparkle Effect teams will receive free uniforms, giving every cheerleader a sense of confidence, pride, and ownership of their accomplishments.
TEACHER TRAINING: Teen leaders will receive on-site training to develop the confidence and tools they need to maximize their potential for success and instill best practices in their teams.
Sarah will use World of Children® Award funds to generate an additional 100 inclusive teams, and provide uniforms and on-site teacher training for 2,000 students.