ParaCheer is a new division of the sport of Cheerleading that is currently in development, with the assistance of the International Cheerleading Union (ICU). ParaCheer will involve mixed teams of disabled and non-disabled athletes, working together to create a routine that incorporates most of the elements of a current cheerleading routine – jumps, dance, stunts and tumbling (ParaCheer currently excludes Basket and Sponge Tosses). It will have its own rules and scoring system that takes into account the adaptations that may be required to enable disabled participants to execute the required skills. Rules and scoring systems are still in development and more details about those will added to this website when it becomes available.
How is ParaCheer different to Special Needs Cheerleading?
Currently there are already divisions within most cheerleading competitions, including the World Championships, for Special Needs athletes. These divisions are generally non-competitive and many of the athletes in these teams will have multiple and/or complex learning disabilities, as well as possibly having physical disabilities. Special Needs cheerleading teams usually have helpers or assistants who are on the mat with the participants during their routine, to aid them in executing the skills or to guide them through the routine. With ParaCheer, we are creating an opportunity for those athletes who have physical limitations, but who have the capacity to learn and memorise a full complex cheerleading routine, to compete at a high level alongside their peers, utilising the assistance of their team-mates in order to provide adaptations/support that make it possible for them to participate in all elements of the routine. The ICU is currently also developing a scoring system for Special Needs cheerleading in order to make this division competitive as well, and we will provide news and updates about these developments on this website as well. The intention is not for ParaCheer to replace Special Needs cheerleading, but rather to offer another division alongside it.