As the sport of cheerleading progresses into the 21st century, so does it’s attitude. Cheerleading now encourages athletes of all ages and skill sets to participate and experience all the positive effects that cheerleading provides. This expansion has allowed more than 300 special needs cheer squads to form in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. These squads take athletes with mental and/or cognitive disabilities and give them the opportunity to participate in a sport that fosters high self-esteem and confidence. It is important to keep in mind that each athlete has unique medical and behavioral conditions, and an assistant coach experienced in dealing with special needs is often required onsite to help with practices. Parent involvement is also key since parents know their child best, and although it may be tough at times to work with a special needs squad, the reward is far greater than any challenge ever faced.