The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation partnered with the Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders to host a live stream cheer session for 1,100 youth. The event was part of a week-long Virtual Cheer Camp hosted by the Parks and Rec department.
“I think we were extremely overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised at how much interest there was from youth about a virtual cheer camp,” said L.A. County Parks and Rec director Norma Garcia. “That shows the youth are hungry for activities.”
Rams cheerleaders Mariah Lewis and Justene Alpert along with representatives from the Parks and Rec department taught the youth with a dance and cheer routine.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Parks and Recreation’s Cheer program. The program serves boys and girls from 4-18 years old; Each year, 600-800 youths enroll in the program.
The offices of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas reached out to the Department of Parks and Rec to partner with the Rams for a virtual football camp. Parks and Recreation informed them of their cheer program which brought about the idea of the cheer camp.
The event was free to all participants and was advertised to youth in the program and throughout Los Angeles County. Garcia noted that she was a cheerleader when she was in high school and how that experience was a benefit to her.
“I shared with the youth how just being involved in an activity during school helped to build confidence, helped to project my voice, helped to be comfortable in performing and was a really good social outlet,” she said.
Each day during the cheer camp, the youth will learn cheerleading skills, routines, and techniques from the Rams cheerleaders along with staff of L.A. County Parks and Recreation. The sessions are prerecorded, which allows parents to engage with their kids while learning.
“What you’ll also see is positive reinforcement and specifically during these times, our youth need to hear how much they’re cherished,” Garcia said.
After the live stream, the Rams cheerleaders gave the youth advice about being optimistic and being a team player. Lewis told the cheerleaders to never limit themselves. She talked about how she persevered to get on a professional dance cheer team.
“It took me three years to get on the team,” Lewis said. “I worked hard, I knew what I wanted to achieve, and I worked towards that every day.”
Alpert reminded the youth to be kind, helpful, and respectful to their teammates and to also have fun.
“My favorite part about being a cheerleader is you get to be on a team,” she said. “When you’re on a team, it’s not just about you, but it’s about your teammates and your teammates become your family.”
On www.parks.lacounty.gov, parents can sign their children up for the cheer camp and a myriad of other activities that L.A. County Parks and Recreation is providing. At certain parks, the streets adjacent have been shut down so families can walk and exercise there.
They are also hosting mini camps that will follow social distancing public health protocol.
“Our Splash Pads are open at our parks, we’re offering camping once a month at our regional parks,” Garcia said. “We have lots of support that we’re providing our youth and families this summer.”