Adaptive cheerleading team first in New Zealand to compete

The Pakuranga College Adaptive Athletes Cheer Team at Cheer Factor,
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The Pakuranga College Adaptive Athletes Cheer Team at Cheer Factor,

Silverdale based Pacific Cheerleaders has given an adaptive cheer squad a major lift.

For the first time in New Zealand, a squad of adaptive athletes - The Pakuranga College Adaptive Athletes Cheer Team - has competed at competition level, performing their first routine at Cheer Factor.

The squad, aged between 12 and 27, formed under the guidance of Pakuranga College's Pegasus Unit teacher Jordyn Rouse and three year 13 students.

New to cheerleading, the team of students and former pupils overcame various disabilities to put on an "inspirational" performance.

Pacific Cheerleaders provided choreographical and musical input to the team, and manager/director Martien van Kuijk could not be happier with the result.

"To be there and watch it happen was absolutely inspiring - you kinda had to be there. Even now it's hard for me to talk about. It was unbelievable," he says.

The team was welcomed to the stage with a speech from MC Samantha Jane Harding.

"Coming up is a team which is going to show you that for some students there are no limitations to what they are able to achieve," she said.

"This team is for adaptive athletes. They're giving cheerleading a go for the first time ever, and this is the first time they're going to compete at Cheer Factor.

"This team has only been together for a short time, but they want to show you what they have already learnt.

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"There is a range of abilities and anything they perform is a huge achievement."

Teacher and ex-cheerleader Jordyn Rouse has been the driving force behind the squad, van Kuijk says.

"By virtue of being an ex-cheerleader and seeing other special needs teams from the US, she thought it might be a cool thing to do," he says.

"To see her bring her passion to a bunch of people who don't get a lot of chances is just phenomenal."

Pacific Cheerleading was started in Silverdale by van Kuijk eight years ago, after his daughter took up cheerleading on the North Shore.

Van Kuijk has noticed the sport 'constantly growing' since becoming involved.

"At the time we started, there was about three clubs around New Zealand and now there is probably close to 20," he says.

The club entered individuals and groups into the Cheer Factor competition - all of whom finished on the podium.

 - Rodney Times

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