Varsity Spirit, the driving force in cheerleading and dance, has signed on as the official training sponsor of The Sparkle Effect, making a $50,000 commitment to the nonprofit. The Sparkle Effect helps schools nationwide create cheerleading and dance teams that bring together students with and without disabilities. This partnership is one of Varsity Spirit’s efforts to spotlight all the ways cheerleaders and dancers make a difference in their schools and communities. These athletes are leaders in their communities, and major drivers of school spirit and involvement – which correlate directly to academic achievement and self-confidence.
“Varsity Spirit is proud to expand our support of The Sparkle Effect, which provides schools across the country the hands-on support they need to create their own inclusive cheer and dance teams,” said Varsity Brands Founder and Chairman Jeff Webb. “The dedicated teens building these teams are just one outstanding reminder that cheerleaders are leaders in their communities and schools – which they’re demonstrating by promoting inclusion and respect among their peers.”
The Sparkle Effect, which was founded in 2009 by then high school cheerleader Sarah Cronk, now includes more than 180 inclusive high school cheer teams in 29 states that directly involve nearly 4,000 students with and without disabilities. More than 25 trainings have been scheduled across the country so far this year.
The Sparkle Effect is the only program of its kind to provide training free of cost to participants. These highly personalized training sessions provide the perfect opportunity to guide, inform, and encourage new inclusive teams as they launch. The trainings help to establish best practices and ensure a team’s cohesion and longevity, while providing team members with the confidence, sense of responsibility, and motivation necessary to achieve the highest level of success.
“Varsity Spirit’s generous commitment to sponsor our training program allows The Sparkle Effect to make an even greater impact on more high school students across the country,” says Sarah Cronk, Founder of Sparkle Effect and now a Communications Associate at Varsity Spirit. “Research indicates that schools with a Sparkle Effect team show an increase in respectful, accepting, and inclusive interactions among the entire student body – we’re excited to continue spreading these results through our increased training efforts.”
This commitment reflects Varsity’s efforts to continue highlighting the connection between school spirit, involvement, achievement and self-confidence. According to a Harris Poll and subsequent white paper published in 2014, 92 percent of principals agree that high school spirit is tied to high academic achievement, and 90 percent of students with high levels of school spirit are more likely to be leaders. The study also found that students with higher levels of school spirit have higher Grade Point Averages and are more likely to expect that they will receive a four-year degree or more.
About Varsity Spirit
Memphis-based Varsity Spirit has been a driving force behind cheerleading’s dynamic transformation into the high-energy, athletic activity it is today, and the leading global source for all things cheerleading and dance. A division of Varsity Brands, Varsity Spirit is a leader in uniform innovation and educational camps, clinics and competitions, impacting nearly a million athletes each year. Focused on safety, entertainment and traditional school leadership, Varsity Spirit’s 1,200 employees have been helping raise cheerleading’s influence and profile since 1974. For more information about Varsity Spirit or Varsity Brands, please visit www.varsity.com or www.varsitybrands.com.
About The Sparkle Effect
The Sparkle Effect is a national nonprofit organization that empowers students nationwide to create school-based cheerleading and dance programs that bring together students with and without disabilities. Started in 2009 by high school cheerleader Sarah Cronk, The Sparkle Effect has trained and supported more than 180 inclusive high school cheer teams in 29 states involving more than 3,600 students with and without disabilities. On Sparkle Effect teams, students with and without disabilities practice and perform together at school sporting events, relaying a simple message: at our school, all students are respected and included, regardless of ability. The Sparkle Effect provides schools all the necessary resources to start a team, including grants for uniforms and free on-site training. The Sparkle Effect has been recognized by People Magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Do Something Awards, and L’Oréal Paris for their commitment to inclusion. For more information about The Sparkle Effect, please visit www.thesparkleeffect.org.