Special Needs Team

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SI Spirit

Original Poster
May 21, 2012
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Staten Island, New York
www.sispirit.com
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Gym Owner
Hey all, I am currently looking into incorporating a special needs team into my program and was wondering if anyone could give me a little info on how they run at your gyms? Is there a monthly tuition, length and frequency of practices, amount of competitions they attend, and how many coaches you have helping out? Any information would be a great help. Thank you!

Spirit Allstars
 
Oct 13, 2011
13
2
66
Rochester, NY
Role:
Coach
Hi, I coach a Special Needs team for Northeast Elite. My practices are once a week for an hour. For each team member I have a "helper" from the Senior team. Depending on the disablilities of your athletes, you may require more or less "helpers."

The cost is $10 per practice. We only go to local competitions to help keep the cost low, but we always let our parents make the final decision if they want to travel with the other teams.

Gabby
Special Needs Coach
Northeast Elite All Stars
 
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jordynscheermom

Cheer Parent
Sep 20, 2013
65
52
141
Stevens Point, WI
www.heartofcheer.com
Role:
Parent
Hey all, I am currently looking into incorporating a special needs team into my program and was wondering if anyone could give me a little info on how they run at your gyms? Is there a monthly tuition, length and frequency of practices, amount of competitions they attend, and how many coaches you have helping out? Any information would be a great help. Thank you!

Spirit Allstars

First off, congrats on stepping into this area of cheer! An amazing group to work with, to say the least!

Our gym just started a special needs team this year, but I personally have worked with the developmentally disabled adult population for over 10 years now. I work with our special needs team in the capacity of "specialist". I help the coaches change up how they explain things to the athletes, deal with "behavioral" issues, and as a resource for "challenging" athletes.

I would suggest getting some information on different developmental disabilities and health issues associated with special needs. The Epilepsy Foundation has EXCELLENT information on Seizures. Autism is one that you will want to do some additional focus on, as there are so many aspects/spectrums of it, and working with autism has great tips in general with dealing with people (funny, but very true). The parents of the athletes will be EXCELLENT resources for dealing with the atheltes. If you have a Special Olympic location in your area (the YMCA, etc), they will be a great resource for getting athletes as well as what you might need to do to work with special needs. I could go on, but the short of it - research and connect.

Again, congrats! You will LOVE it and so will your athletes that help out!! Very rewarding emotionally. . .
 
Jan 9, 2010
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We've had a special needs team for almost 10 years now. Ours is completely cost-free. It's my understanding that this is because the coaches are volunteer and the competitions our team attends waive the registration fee. The uniforms are very basic stock uniforms from Varsity. They do about 5 competitions and wrap the season up by competing at the Special Olympics of MD Summer Games. This year we have 35 athletes/helpers on the team, which is our biggest yet!

In my experience, interacting with Cobras is a joy for everyone in the program. It teaches the younger kids about diversity and acceptance of people different than ourselves. We had unified athletes as young as 6 and they had a blast!
 

CheerBank

Cheer Parent
May 7, 2012
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In my drama free bubble
Role:
Parent
Hey all, I am currently looking into incorporating a special needs team into my program and was wondering if anyone could give me a little info on how they run at your gyms? Is there a monthly tuition, length and frequency of practices, amount of competitions they attend, and how many coaches you have helping out? Any information would be a great help. Thank you!

Spirit Allstars
My cp helps out with the special needs team at her gym, which is run by an occupational therapist. They offer a cheer class all season long for an hour a week, which not only has tumbling and dance, but they play many games and have obstacle courses; the kids are very active. Usually toward the end of October they add on another hour for the team. Some kids who go to the class do not join the team and vice versa. Last season they went to two local competitions and there is usually at least one older girl per special needs athlete with them on the floor (there is a very high volunteer rate at our gym for this program and the coach never turns anyone away who wants to help). Sorry I cannot give you any price information for the athletes.
 

dawgshow

Cheer Parent
Oct 14, 2010
5,463
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3,196
Indiana
Role:
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I know Indiana Elite's Special Needs team is no-cost. @dawgshow may be able to give more info, since I'm just a fan of my fierce niece for this one.
There is now a minimal monthly fee. I want to say $30 but I can find out for certain if the OP would like.


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ACEDAD

Named "Best Veteran" meaning "Most Attractive".
Cheer Parent
Dec 14, 2009
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Hoover, AL
www.acetribe.com
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Retired From Cheer
I have always recommended that the athletes pay something (with exceptions for need).

1. The gym can donate soft costs but shouldn't have to eat hard costs like practice wear, etc.
2. Parents tend to take things more seriously if they pay something; doesn't have to be a lot.
3. Just because a family has a special needs child doesn't mean they are poor.

Of all these, number two is the most important.


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Apr 28, 2017
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Very old thread, but I'll add one more thing. If the special needs team is free or very inexpensive, consider how and when you present this to your team parents. Our gym is doing one, and it was announced at the team parent meeting, right after we'd gotten the hotel room block information. And mandatory gym fundraiser information. It doesn't exactly make parents enthusiastic to find out that you're expected to fundraise to pay for other people's kids, when you have a couple of thousand dollars of expenses coming up (over the uniform and monthly contract) for your own.
 
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