CHI OMEGA KARLY DANKERT STARTS 'HAWKEYE SPARKLES' SPIRIT SQUAD FOR STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITES
Hi! I'm Karly, and I want to tell you about the Sparkle Effect, a student lead program that empowers junior high, high school, and college students across the country to include all students, with and without disabilities, in cheerleading and dance programs. I was a part of a Sparkle Effect dance team while in high school and completely fell in love with everything the program had to offer. Not only did I get to be involved in an organization that focused on a sport that I loved; however, I also got to share my passion for the sport with a group of girls that, without the Sparkle Effect, probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so.
I was actively involved in dance all growing up and when I got to college I knew that I wanted to continue dancing, but I wasn’t quite sure how. During my junior year, the Sparkle Effect was continuing to expand and teams began to develop at Universities throughout the country. This was when I figured out how I was meant to continue my passion for dance and make an impact on campus. I then met with two friends from my high school, Allie Pastrnak (Chi Omega) and Lauren Delzell (Delta Gamma). They were as determined as I was to bring the Sparkle Effect to Iowa and it all went uphill from there. The University of Iowa Hawkeye Sparkles became the fourth college team to be apart of the Sparkle Effect.
The Hawkeye Sparkles is a student organization on campus that functions as an all inclusive spirit squad that cheers on the Hawkeyes in a fun and innovative way. Practices are held once a week and include stretching, learning cheers and jumps, going across the floor, and working on routines for performances. This semester we had performances at Dance Marathon, an Iowa Women’s basketball game, the NCAA gymnastics meet, and Follies for Greek Week.
To this day, I am still in awe at how quickly this organization has grown on campus. It is such a rewarding feeling to see the girls who were so hesitant and reserved at our first practice go up on stage and dance their heart out without fear holding them back. The bonds that our team members have formed throughout the semester are so inspiring and the personal growth of both the students with and without disabilities is admirable. Throughout my involvement, The Sparkle Effect has made such a tremendous impact on my life and I cannot wait to see how it continues to change those at the University of Iowa’s campus.