Tampa’s “Cheer Gems” cheerleading team has boys and girls with Down syndrome

TAMPA, Fla. – Maisy Kiefer is an energetic cheerleader.

As two cheerleaders guide her and her friends to perform an acrobatic routine, this little girl with Down syndrome bounces around with a big smile and great style.

“This program is great,” Maisy’s mother Michelle said as she watched her daughter practice at New Beginnings Christian Church in Tampa. “And it’s a good way for him to burn some energy!”

The new program is called Cheer Gems, a cheerleading team made up of girls and boys with Down syndrome and their siblings.

It’s another new, inclusive idea from GiGi’s Playhouse in Tampa, a success center for children with Down syndrome and their families.

The Cheer Gems have their amazing uniforms and their amazing coaches: CarolAnn Mitchell and Jayme Floyd, longtime industry professionals who volunteer their skills and expertise.

“They taught us more than we ever taught them,” Mitchell said of the experience. “It’s definitely the highlight of our weeks, and we love spending time with these kids.”

But coaches aren’t just here to have fun – although that’s a lot of fun.

“We really want to give them a real cheerleading experience like any other cheerleading squad,” Floyd said.

The Cheer Gems will be competing in shows, and will be appearing all over Tampa Bay, including the recent opening party for Crumbl Cookies in Tampa.

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