TAMPA, Fla. — Maisy Kiefer is one energetic cheerleader

As two cheerleading pros guide her and her friends through an acrobatic routine, this young girl with Down syndrome is bouncing right along with a big smile and big style

"This program is just tremendous," Maisy'sMichelle said while watching her daughter practice at New Beginnings Christian Church in Tampa. "And it's a great way for her to burn off some energy!"
The new program is called Cheer Gems, a cheerleading squad made up of girls and boys with Down syndrome and their siblings

It's yet another innovative, inclusive idea from GiGi's Playhouse in Tampa, an achievement center for children with Down syndrome and their families

The Cheer Gems have their own awesome uniforms and their own awesome coaches: CarolAnn Mitchell and Jayme Floyd, longtime industry pros volunteering their skills and expertise

"They have taught us more than we've ever taught them," Mitchell said about the experience. "They're truly the highlight of our weeks, and we just love hanging out with these kids."
But the coaches aren't here just to have fun — although it is a lot of fun

"We definitely want to give them as much of a realistic cheer experience as any other cheer team," Floyd said

The Cheer Gems will compete in showcases, and they'll be making appearances all over Tampa Bay, including a recent grand-opening gig at Crumbl Cookies in Tampa.