SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Mixed in among the jumping and the tumbling and the healthy fun taking place at Savannah Sharks Cheering and Tumbling every week, are important lessons for both students and instructors.
"I learned that they're just like the typical kids," Addie Coleman said of the special needs athletes she has been teaching. "They are no different at all."
Addie and her sister Grace have seen differently-abled children competing at cheerleading events they attended out of town and decided they wanted to start a team for special needs kids here.
So they approached Megan Yarbrough at Savannah Sharks.
"I wasn't quite sure what to expect," said Yarbrough. "We just brought the kids in, I did a little bit of training and was told to treat them the same way we treat all our other kids."
And that's what Addie and Grace do. They share their cheer skills with the team and also share in the joy when their young athletes achieve a new skill.
"It's really inspiring because you underestimate these girls," said Grace. "You think, they can't do something, but they do it."
"They get to learn teamwork in this sport, which they wouldn't have been able to," added Addie. "Because they don't have a lot of sports for differently abled people to be able to come in and be on a team."
Yarbrough said the Colemans work well with the members of the team and are dedicated to their improvement.
"It's just awesome," said Yarbrough. "Their patience, their drive and motivation are great and they never miss a practice. They never are the kind of kids who are too busy to stop and help another child. It's just been really, really wonderful having them here and starting this program."
The team now goes to cheer competitions, and each one is usually a highlight of the season.
"They are so excited and their eyes just light up and right before they go on," said Grace. "They're just like dancing before they go on and they get so excited."
"They really like to compete," added Addie. "And we got a standing ovation at the last competition."
A fitting reaction to these athletes and the WTOC Hometown Heroes teaching them.