BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Most people think of cheerleaders and see the short pleated skirts and the matching pompoms and saddle shoes.
Unfortunately, for some Bridgeport cheerleaders from a low-income neighborhood, all they have are matching t-shirts. To help change that, and make sure the cheerleading squad from Cesar Batalla School can hold their heads high and feel proud when they are cheering against a fellow team, school counselor Kristi Wisse has started a GoFundMe page to raise the money to purchase uniforms.
Wisse started the cheerleading team as part of a program to reduce truancy and to help at-risk students
"The team was so popular and the students really loved it so I decided to continue it this upcoming year," she said. "The girls dedicated a lot of time (including their Saturday mornings) to the team and I would like nothing more than them to know how very proud I am of them by providing uniforms for them next year."
If enough money is raised, the uniforms will be passed down from year to year, Wisse said. The girls cheer at the basketball games, which begin early in the year, so they hope to raise enough money before school starts so they can be ordered in the first month of school.
"Particularly for these at-risk students, I think this school connection is seriously important. Getting teens connected to positive activities at school can sometimes make the difference between a successful school experience and truancy or dropping out," Wisse said. "Both the students and I would be very grateful to receive funding for this team. They work very hard and I think they deserve to have everything that their counterparts in neighboring towns have."
In addition to the cheerleading uniforms, Wisse hopes to be able to raise enough money to begin a middle school flag football league for the Bridgeport middle schools.
"I think that these after school activities are so valuable for these students and I figure that if people knew that the students had an interest in these activities and had something positive to do after school that they would want to support it," she said.
But because the amount needed is so great ($5,000), Wisse started with the money needed for the uniforms before she started to dream bigger: "I would love any help I can get in raising the funds for these amazing kids. I am proud of their effort and dedication and their participation in these activities truly build a connection to the school. The kids on the teams last year that are moving on to high school have already asked if they could come back and help next year."
To date, $505 has been raised for the uniforms. To donate, click here .
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