Name: Madelyn Halpin
From: Clifton Park, new york
Grade: 12 2018-2019
School: Shenendahowa Central High School
Inspiring our Youth
By: Madelyn Halpin
At the age of 8 I was going to get involved with something I would later
realize would shape me into the person I am today. It was a warm
summer day when I walked onto the large field full of other girls. It
was my first experience with cheerleading. Over the next few years I
would learn to cheer loudly, jump, base, back and fly. What I did not
realize was that I was also being inspired.
In my final year as part of the Junior Plainsmen Cheerleading League as
an eighth grader I found myself surrounded by my peers and many of my
friends. We had grown close over the years and had a great bond.
While our coaches had been teaching us to cheer Coach Alex who ran
the program had been teaching us for years about respect and treating
each other right. You were not allowed to have your phones out during
practice or games. We were not allowed to post anything on social
media that was negative in any way. We had to treat each other with
respect and support each other. No negative comments or bullying was
allowed at all. If something occurred Coach Alex would take the whole
team and sit them down until things were worked out. I realized that
in order to be a good person I needed to treat everyone right and
stick up for people that needed help.
In this cheer program after you graduate to high school you can return
to the Junior Plainsmen League and become a coach. I knew immediately
this was something I wanted to do. This program taught such good
values and encouraged girls to be strong and nice. I wanted to make a
difference. I started on a 4 year journey to teach our youth and
encourage girls to be confident and feel a part of something. Every
August through October two nights a week, 2 hours each night we would
be assigned a team to coach and teach cheerleading. Every weekend we
would then cheer for the Junior Plainsmen Football games in our town.
With just those 2 activities I have worked over 500 volunteer hours.
We also took our teams to do community service and collected
donations for various local food pantries. These extra activities
helped to build teamwork amongst the girls.
While coaching we taught the girls how to cheer, do jumps, and do preps and
stunting. We sometimes taught them team building songs and games to
keep them working together. I quickly learned how to handle young
kids and to work through issues that may occur. There was no meanness
allowed, no bullying, and no negativity on social media. Most
importantly it taught me how to encourage empathy, respect for
themselves and others and inspire them to be the best they could be..
Trying to handle young girls and their emotions is a very challenging job.
They all have different personalities and have been brought up in
different ways. Kids these days want to blame others for something
going wrong. This was probably were I learned the most. I had to be
patient, I had to be reasonable and I had to be a good role model all
the time. It was a goal to teach them to be responsible for their
part in the team performance and how if they matched that with team
work then anything they tried was possible. In doing all the things
that the volunteer job required made me realize how rewarding it was
to be able to coach the girls. It made me realize that I could do it
and that I enjoyed working with children and seeing them succeed.
This experience has definitely inspired me to seek a profession in which I
work with children, maybe nursing or child phycology. I am hoping
that my involvement has inspired these young ladies to have
confidence in themselves and to treat each other fairly and with
respect. Everyone deserves to feel like they belong and that they can
do whatever they set their minds to.