g i ve s ever yon e
“Mit-chie’s...Mus-tangs!” she slowly but
excitedly pronounced, slapping her thighs,
then clapping her hands. “Come on, you
guys do it,” she encouraged and soon the
kids were following along, faces beaming.
Seeing their children having fun just like
other kids put smiles on the parents’ faces
too. Grateful families spread the word, and
at the next class, more students showed up.
Kendra Ferris brought her 13-year-old
daughter, Katie, who has Down syn-
drome. Katie’s 16-year-old sister,
Kalista, who doesn’t have
special needs, tagged along.
“How can I help?” she asked.
Cristina happily appointed
her as junior coach, and
while Cristina led cheers up
front, Kalista helped guide
anyone struggling to keep up.
As weeks passed, Cristina
added more cheers with more
steps. And one afternoon, she asked the
class, “So...do you think you’re all ready
for a public performance?”
“Yes! ” the k ids cheered, happily.
Wanting to make the occasion extra
specia l, A lex arranged for a pink limo to
drive the team to a local kidney disease run,
where they would cheer on the runners.
By the time they arrived at the park, the
kids were really revved up. Assembling
at the finish line, they chanted, cheered
and did a pom-pom dance routine. The
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It increases success!
A Carnegie Mellon University study
found that when researchers asked
participants to choose between an
easy task or a challenging one, people
who received encouragement took the
tougher option, while those with less
support chose the easier path. The
result: Six months later, the encour-
aged go-getters exhibited greater
personal growth and happiness!
It bolsters courage!
University of California research-
ers asked 75 women to write a speech
in four minutes, and as the women
were preparing, some got a text of
support from their loved ones saying,
You’ll do fine! Others got a text about
something unrelated, while some
got no text at all. Participants who
received encouraging texts said they
felt braver compared to the others,
and the supportive texts even reduced
the participants’ blood pressure!
It boosts self-esteem!
According to a study in the
International Journal of Occupational
Safety and Ergonomics, when
employees received a small encour-
aging gift from their employer, they
had more confidence to face daily
challenges. In fact, even the smallest
gesture of support made others feel
valued, needed and joy-filled!
science proves it!
girls^ of^ all^
spectators went wild—Mitchie’s Mustangs
received as much applause as the runners.
Seeing their faces light up, Cristina felt a
lump form in her throat as she realized that
cheerleading wasn’t just something fun for
them to do. We’re building their confidence
and self-esteem, she thought, smiling.
Something to cheer about
Today, a year later, Mitchie’s Mustangs
boasts 11 members, and they’re about
to get two new cheerleaders—
Charlotte and Kayden, who
Cristina initially thought
were too young to partici-
pate but changed her mind
after watching them dance
along from the sidelines.
The team performs at
rec center competitions and
other local events. Friendships
have blossomed, both among the
families and the team members.
“Thanks to Cristina, Andrea feels less
isolated, more a part of a community,” says
Virginia. “Her self-confidence has received
such a boost that she now volunteers at her
old school’s special ed class and at church.”
“You can practically see the kids emerg-
ing from their shells,” says Cristina, beam-
ing. “These young people are coming to
realize—and showing the community—
just how able they are. And that’s truly
something to cheer about.” —Bill Holton
are proving to
just how able
Woma n’s World^ 4/13/20 (^11)