On a high

Cheer pro­gram keeps girls at school

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Perera ■

A Kar­ratha Se­nior High School en­gage­ment pro­gram has lo­cal girls reach­ing for the sky, thanks to its fo­cus on a more un­usual sport in the Pil­bara — cheer­lead­ing.

New PE teacher Matilda Mealiff is a com­pet­i­tive cheerleader who has rep­re­sented Aus­tralia, and this term she de­cided to try the sport with the school’s Goals for Girls pro­gram, de­signed to en­cour­age about 100 fe­male stu­dents from Years 7 to 10 to at­tend school through phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. Ten weeks later, the girls are now per­form­ing full rou­tines com­plete with stunts and orig­i­nal dances.

“I’ve worked with cheer­lead­ing in schools in Perth pre­vi­ously and I’ve seen how it has an im­pact on your av­er­age kid,” Ms Mealiff said.

“I can’t be­lieve how much it’s changed the girls, and how much they’ve be­come closer with one an­other and just got them ex­cited and en­thu­si­as­tic. It’s been good to see them come out of their shells.”

Ms Mealiff said there were a wealth of ben­e­fits to cheer­lead­ing in­clud­ing bet­ter body im­age, school pride, and even lit­er­acy from de­vel­op­ing cheers.

“I said to the girls, by the end of cheer­lead­ing you’ll see each other as fam­ily,” she said.

“What I mean by that is it’s dif­fer­ent (from other team sports), be­cause (with those) you play to­gether but you don’t hold each other, you don’t have to rely on each other. They’ve been el­bowed in the head. Stuff like this hap­pens.”

“The big­gest thing with cheer­lead­ing is you have to co-op­er­ate, you have to trust, ev­ery­body has a role and it only works if ev­ery­body does their role.”

Head of PE Sarah Ho­p­ley said this was the first school cheer­lead­ing pro­gram in the Pil­bara and there had been 100 per cent par­tic­i­pa­tion at ses­sions, thanks largely to Ms Mealiff ’s ex­pe­ri­ence and en­thu­si­asm.

Goals for Girls stu­dents Shi­anne Bin­sali, 14, and Ash­leigh Becker, 14, said cheer­lead­ing had ben­e­fited girls in the pro­gram be­cause it was a team ef­fort that was also a lot of fun.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Perera

Kar­ratha Se­nior High School Goals for Girls pro­gram stu­dents per­form a rou­tine from their new cheer­lead­ing classes.

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