Spreading Cheer: A Day with UCL Lightning Helping Children Discover Cheerleading Student-Led Project

selfie of the volunteering officers with the volunteers

Jingyi and I had the pleasure of visiting the UCL Lightning Helping Children Discover Cheerleading Student-Led Project last month to witness the incredible work being done. As we stepped into the gymnasium, the vibrant energy of the students gathered for an after-school session of cheerleading was palpable. Led by passionate project leaders and volunteers from UCL’s cheerleading Student-Led project, the session began with a series of lively warm-up exercises and stretches.

Throughout the session, we observed students throwing themselves into perfecting their routines with unwavering dedication and encouragement. Laughter filled the air as they diligently worked on coordinating formations and mastering movements, with project volunteers offering individualized advice and feedback to ensure everyone felt supported and included.

As the session progressed, we witnessed friendships blossoming and the group becoming more synchronized with each other. By the end of the session, the gym was buzzing with excitement as the students proudly rehearsed their routine to Taylor Swift’s music, a testament to their hard work and commitment.

Each participant played their part flawlessly, radiating confidence and pride.

After the session, I had the privilege of sitting down with the project leaders, Arabella and Princess, to learn more about their inspiration for leading the project. They shared with me their passion for making cheerleading more accessible, particularly in non-selective schools like the UCL Academy, where they noticed a gap in access to the sport. Their dedication to empowering others to explore new activities and develop valuable skills was truly inspiring.

They also spoke candidly about the personal benefits they had gained from their roles, including improving their project management skills and gaining valuable coaching experience. They emphasized the transformative impact the project had on participants, both academically and personally, as they watched shy individuals developed their confidence in this supportive environment.

One of the most memorable moments they shared was the end of year showcase performance where students from the school overcame challenges and proudly displayed their newly acquired skills. Princess was especially proud of the students’ stellar performance in the showcase - it was a powerful demonstration of the impact of the project on the students. Both Princess and Arabella also shared with me that the concept of implementing an end-of year showcase stemmed from reflecting on the experiences of the previous year. Recognizing the potential to enhance student engagement, they believed that introducing a routine for students to work towards would serve as a powerful motivational tool. This demonstrates their dedicated commitment to reflection, evaluation, and maintaining continuity within the project—the core beliefs that underpin the project.

Offering advice to other students interested in starting their own volunteer projects, they stressed the importance of communication, partnership, and research. Arabella mentioned that it would be a great idea to start a project with a friend/friends so you could support each other on the way and share the responsibilities. They also encouraged UCL students to seize the opportunity to make a difference, assuring them that support, and resources from the SU Volunteering team were available every step of the way.

As we left the gym, both Jingyi and I couldn't help but feel inspired by the passion and dedication of the project volunteers and participants alike.

The cheerleading Student-Led project was more than just a cheerleading session—it was a celebration of friendship, empowerment, and the joy of coming together as a community.

We wholeheartedly encourage others to consider joining a Student-Led project next year, or perhaps even start their own!

Want to start your own community volunteering project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!