Westside Cheerleaders "Sparkle"

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Many little girls dream of one day being a cheerleader. But sometimes, especially for kids with special needs, that dream never comes true... until now. A student at Westside High School wanted to give some special girls a chance to "sparkle."

On Friday, September 3rd, as the Westside football team prepared to play Lincoln Southwest, some new faces were cheering from the sidelines. They're called the Sparkles. Girls with special needs cheering along side the varsity cheerleaders and having the time of their lives

Sophomore Kailey Siebert helped get the Sparkles program going at Westside, after she saw it featured on a national TV program.

"I worked with special needs for a long time," said Siebert, "and thought it would be great to bring that to Westside, and went to Mrs. Huffman, had countless meetings, and got it off the ground. Contacted parents, and then got it rolling in July with practices."

Siebert says the cheering, the interaction, and time spent with the other cheerleaders has given the girls more confidence and a greater sense of belonging.

Siebert says, "The parents reaction has been amazing. They will talk to me and just burst out in tears because they're so excited to see their daughters included in their school. Before it would be, we'd see them in the hall and maybe not talk to them. But now we'll see them in the hall and know them by their name. Say hi. Say how are you doing? And they'll talk about that for the rest of the day that it's so cool they've got friends outside their own class room."

Siebert says her goal is to see other Omaha metro school add a sparkles cheerleading program.

The team will cheer again next Friday at Westside's homecoming game.