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What is ParaCheer/Adaptive Abilities?

ParaCheer divisions, which were renamed Adaptive Abilities divisions in 2018, are new divisions in the sport of Cheerleading that made it's competition debut at the 2017 International Cheerleading Union (ICU) Cheerleading World championships, with the assistance of the . Adaptive Abilities Cheerleading involves mixed teams of disabled and non-disabled athletes, working together to create a routine that incorporates most of the elements of a current cheerleading routine – jumps, dance, stunts and tumbling (this currently excludes Basket and Sponge Tosses). The rules and scoring guidelines for these divisions take into account the technique adaptations required for people with many different impairments to perform the sport safely. At the ICU Worlds Adaptive Abilities divisions require a minimum of 25% of the team to have some form of disability, in other competitions it can be as little as 1 athlete currently. A classification system is currently in development to enable a more even playing field for teams to compete against each other regardless of the amount of disabled athletes on the team or the severity of each athletes impairment. There are currently 5 divisions at competitions, Unified Median, Co-ed Advanced, All-girl Advanced, Freestyle Pom, and Hip-hop, for more information on those please see our page 'What is Cheerelading'.

How is ParaCheer/Adaptive Abilities different to Special Olympics cheerleading/Special Abilities division?

•There is sometimes confusion about the differences between Special Olympics and Adaptive Abilities / ParaCheer, due to both being inclusive of disabled participants.

•Adaptive abilities / ParaCheer is up to Advanced (lvl 4) while Special Olympics divisions are up to Intermediate (lvl 2)

•In Special Olympics the Unified Partners can’t perform a higher level skill than the athletes with intellectual disability they’re performing with

•The intention is for all those involved in the Adaptive abilities / ParaCheer teams performance to be scored as part of the team, so all adaptations and assistance needed by any athlete with impairment has to come from another team member and not an outside spotter/supporter