In the middle of a difficult 2020, how could Cornerstone families focus on building each other up?
What if our secondary athletes could be paired with elementary athletes to provide encouragement within the same sport?
Building Each Other Up
In response to these questions, the 2020 pilot “Cheer Buddy” program was launched. This optional matching program connected secondary competition cheerleaders with elementary sideline cheerleaders to encourage each other as “Cheer Buddies.” Over the course of the season, secondary and elementary athletes delivered “encouragement bags” to their buddies. Suggestions for each encouragement bag included a note of encouragement, a salty treat, a sweet treat, and a fun trinket.
These items didn’t seem like much, but the responses on the cheerleaders’ faces were priceless.
“This has meant the world to Kendra, and she is so excited to have a cheer buddy/cheer sister,” said elementary mother Wendy Caldwell. “She can’t wait to get to see them all next game!”
The school staff has also experienced the impact of the Cheer Buddy program.
Cornerstone’s 1st through 2nd grade elementary cheer coach, Amanda Winkler, reflected, “It has been such a joy to see my girls be even more excited about cheering! I can’t wait to see how this program will continue to cultivate a relationship with these girls. What precious and extraordinary role models for my girls to have and look up to!”
Angela Eeles 3rd-6th grade elementary sideline cheer coach and secondary’s competition assistant cheer coach witnessed the benefits of both aspects of the program. “It was fun to see the girls interact and even cheer, stunt, and tumble together at the games. As a parent of a competition cheerleader, it was great to see my daughter caring for and encouraging her cheer buddies with sweet words and acts of kindness.”
“I haven’t been in elementary in a while, and I didn’t know many of the girls on that schedule anymore,” said Freshman Ally Kakaty co-creater of the program. “I’ve loved being able to come to the elementary cheerleaders’ games. Whether it’s writing them a note or giving them a little gift, it is so rewarding to see them smile.”
“As with any pilot program, we are learning as we go,” said mother and Cheer Buddy co-creator Michelle Kakaty. “We’re learning how older and younger students want to connect. We’re seeing how mature athletes can inspire beginners. We’re experiencing the power of kind words and intentional relationships in action.”
In addition to the benefits to other cheer families, Michelle and Ally have also personally grown through Cheer Buddies.
“It’s been really enjoyable to create a program with Ally,” said Michelle. “It’s given us a real-life platform to discuss organizational strategies, communication goals, and relationship intentionality. Being able to assist each other while helping spread encouragement across the school is a definite win-win.”
A Launching Pad
The great news for Cornerstone is this initiative is replicable across every Cornerstone program involving both secondary and elementary students.
We encourage our students and families with shared interests to consider ways they can "build each other up."
For more information, images, and videos, follow the fun on Instagram @cpa.cheerbuddy.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11