Disabled World

Limbless US girl Julia Sullivan wants to be cheerleader, school says no‎

Updated: 2011-07-14
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Unfair: Julia Sullivan is challenging the scoring for her cheerleading try-out after she failed to make her school team for the third year in a row
A Nebraska girl born with no arms and legs has blamed unfair scoring after she failed to make her school's cheerleading squad three years in a row.

Julia Sullivan, 16, has complained to the school board after she said she was given 'no accommodation for her disability' during try-outs.

The wheelchair user did not make the team after she received a low score in the jumps/kicks category of the trials.
Miss Sullivan got her highest marks in the communication skills and enthusiasm/spirit categories.

The Aurora High School student, who said that she likes to dance, said: 'I just think it would be fun.'

Miss Sullivan told the Omaha World-Herald that she had practised for the try-outs with her older sister, who is a former cheerleader.

She had worked out ways that she could cheer from her wheelchair, including spinning around.

Miss Sullivan and her parents, Mike and Carolyn Sullivan, asked the school board to correct what they see as 'scoring errors' in her try-out.

Overcoming adversity: Julia Sullivan plays the cymbals in her school marching band


They complained that the school had broken the Americans with Disabilities Act and other discrimination laws.

On Monday, the board declined to take up the matter after reviewing the district's policies with its lawyers and seeking a second legal opinion.

Aurora superintendent Damon McDonald said: 'In both cases, they came back and said the Aurora Public Schools policies and guidelines are appropriate and legitimate for all students.'

Practice: Julia said that she had worked out ways that she could cheer, including spinning in her wheelchair

He told the World-Herald that he does not believe that they violated the disabilities act and that making accommodations 'would fundamentally alter the cheerleading programme'.

Mike Sullivan said he was frustrated by the outcome. 'For us, it's the basic principle,' he told the World-Herald. 'Any handicapped child in Nebraska could be kept out of activities.'

Miss Sullivan, who has no legs and arms that stop short of her elbows, has already overcome her disability to become a member of the school's marching band.

She hangs a cymbal from her wheelchair, which she operates with one arm and hits the cymbal with a stick attached to the other.

She took dance lessons for ten years, sitting on the floor with shoes placed on her arms so that she could tap rhythms on the floor.
SOURCE: Daily Mail
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