Peak Programs for Kids with Special Needs
Peak is proud to be home of the largest cheerleading and dance program for athletes with special needs in the state of Colorado! In 2003, one of Peak’s Owners and co-founder, Julie Zecchino, wanted to give her daughter an opportunity to participate in cheerleading alongside her typically-abled peers. Inspired by her daughter’s love for cheerleading as she watched the Peak Cheer teams flourish, Julie started the Peak Cheer Stars team for athletes with special needs.
Leaders of our Stars Program
At Peak Athletics, our coaching staff for the Stars program are hand-picked, highly trained coaches who have a passion for working with athletes with special needs. All coaches are required to complete a thorough training as put forth by the Special Olympics, as well as concussion training, CPR training, diversity/people-first training and a specialized training for Peak staff only that is based on the specific needs of our group of athletes. This helps ensure the best experience for our athletes with special needs, including making sure their safety is of the utmost priority. Parents can rest assured that their athletes are being trained in a safe environment that caters to the needs of their athlete individually, all in an effort to maximize the training their athletes receive within the parameters of their diagnosis and abilities.
The coaching staff is supported by carefully selected volunteers from Peak’s Elite Competitive Cheer and Dance teams. The volunteer position within the Stars program is a coveted position, for which we receive numerous requests from outside athletes wanting to participate in our program and work with our amazing athletes. The cheerleaders & dancers selected for the volunteer position take their job very seriously, working both as peers and role models for the athletes. Additionally, Stars volunteers may use their volunteer hours towards community service hours as approved by their guidance counselors.
Cheerleading for Athletes with Special Needs
Since its inception, the Cheer Stars have grown exponentially and have become a staple program for athletes interested in special needs cheerleading in the Highlands Ranch community, all over the state of Colorado and across the country. Over the years, the Cheer Stars have been featured on many regional and national news programs such as NBC Nightly News.
Each season, they learn and perform a two minute, thirty second routine at multiple in-state competitions, and travel to nationals every other season. The routine is comparative to any typical cheer team, as it includes standing and running tumbling, stunting, jumping, and a dance. The athletes practice learning and performing this routine once a week all season long (August-March).
Special Athletes Dance Stars Team
The Dance Stars program began in 2008, founded by Peak’s All Star Dance Director, Vanessa, and her sister Molly, who share a passion for working with people with special needs. They recognized that there were abundant opportunities for athletes with special needs to cheer in the all star community, but little to no dance teams. With that, they started the Dance Stars for children with special needs, making them the first all star dance team for athletes with special needs in Colorado. Since then, the Dance Stars have become a well-known entity in the dance community, spreading the word about this amazing opportunity for dancers with special needs.
Athletes in the special needs Dance Stars program enjoy the opportunity to learn the same dance skills as their typically-abled peers. Dancers are exposed to the general components of a pom routine, such as turns, jumps and motions. Athletes are taught the precision and strength of pom motions, and work on strong memorization as they put them in sequence to music. Additionally, athletes participating in special needs dance class are introduced to the fundamentals of jumps and leaps, working on strength, flexibility and power. Lastly, dancers work on basic turns such as chains and single pirouettes, which challenge and strengthen their core and balance. These elements are put together into a fun and exciting pom routine that the dancers then perform at local dance competitions and on alternating years, at a Nationals competition.
Tumbling Class for Athletes with Special Needs
Peak offers a special tumbling class for our athletes with special needs. Athletes attend class once a week and have the opportunity to learn and grow in a fun and safe environment.
They practice basic skills like forward and backward rolls, cartwheels, round-offs, and bridges. The staff guides them through these skills using specific and effective keywords, along with creative drill stations. Along with the tumbling practice, athletes do some conditioning each week in order to strengthen their bodies and make the skills easier and safer. The athletes are supervised and safe the entire class.
Dance Classes for Kids with Special Needs
This unique class exposes athletes with special needs to the wide variety of styles and genres that exist in the dance world. Participants of our special needs dance programs have the opportunity to learn the fundamental skills included in styles such as jazz, pom, ballet and hip hop. Athletes learn skills in each of the styles, as well as short routine combinations to put their newly-learned skills into the context of choreography and memory. This class is open to dancers of all ages and ability levels, all are welcome to learn new skills and enjoy music in a fun and safe environment!
Want more information?
If you are interested in joining our Stars Program, or need additional information: CLICK HERE