Cheerleaders are always making a difference by supporting their school and cheering on their team, so why not expand on that and have an even greater impact? Here are three ways for your squad to make a difference at a game or cheer competition: Show good sportsmanship. Be competitive, but make sure you don’t cross the line into bullying. When sideline cheering, cheer for your team’s successes, but don’t cheer for the other team’s failures. If the fans start chanting negative things, make sure your squad doesn’t join in. Instead, try to lead them in a different chant or cheer. After the game, be respectful to the other team and its cheerleaders and fans, regardless of the game’s outcome. At a competition, focus on your team and your performance. Trash talk just takes away time and energy you could be putting into your performance preparation. Give your all when you take the floor and let your performance speak for itself. If you win, don’t gloat. If you lose, it’s OK to be disappointed, but you don’t need to mope around for the rest of the day. You did your best right? Then there’s nothing to hang your head about. Congratulate the winners, then go practice hard so your best is better next time! Support a cause. You can make a huge difference at games by using your position in the spotlight to draw attention to a cause that’s important to your squad. Maybe you want to collect coats and blankets for a winter clothing drive to support a local shelter, or maybe you want to collect canned food or school supplies for underprivileged children. Just make sure you spread the word so people come prepared with items to donate! Another way to support a cause without raising money or donations is to participate in an awareness campaign, like breast cancer awareness. October is breast cancer awareness month, so your squad can wear pink to raise awareness and plan an event where you ask everyone to wear pink to a particular game. You can even announce that the cheerleaders will be passing buckets through the stands to collect money to donate to breast cancer research. Be inclusive. Have you heard of The Sparkle Effect? It is an organization started by a cheerleader to give children with disabilities the opportunity to cheer. Your squad could do something similar by including special-needs students at your school in one of your sideline cheers or halftime routines. You could also partner with a local organization like the Boys and Girls Club or a youth cheer squad to teach kids a cheer to perform with you at a game. Your squad will have fun, and you’ll have an opportunity to be positive role models for young cheerleaders! How does your squad make a difference at games or competitions?