Shine On

“Let your light shine” is not just a motivational phrase but a goal you’ll set and a life lesson you’ll learn when you walk through the doors of Sonshine Academy in Conway, Arkansas. Sonshine began their cheer program in 1998, which was rebranded in 2005 to become Cheer Force Arkansas. This program has become a leader in the cheerleading industry as well as in the community. From its yearly fall festivals and volunteer performances to its commitment to non-profits and its efforts of constantly giving back to the community, Cheer Force Arkansas works year round on developing not only successful athletes but, most importantly, successful people. This would not be the case without the owners of Sonshine Academy, Scott and Elsie Rose Wright. The Wright family has built a foundation of servant-hearted people who go above and beyond every single day letting their light shine throughout the community, whether it’s tutoring athletes, visiting students on their birthdays during school lunch or staying late at the gym to serve as a mentor, a counselor, or a gentle voice of reason. Here are a few examples of how Sonshine and Cheer Force Arkansas show that America Needs Cheerleaders:

There is something very special about the environment at Sonshine Academy that is evident when you step through their doors. The love and passion that the entire staff pours into their athletes and into each other daily, set this gym apart. One parent shares, “My daughter has learned much more than cheerleading at Sonshine Academy. She has learned life lessons that can’t always be taught at home, such as how to win with pride and humility and how to lose with grace. She has learned what it means to be part of a team and how to serve the needs of others, not just herself. Sonshine Academy has truly helped develop my child’s ability to shine.”

As a way of instilling the habit of service in their athletes, the cheer squads at Cheer Force Arkansas consistently collect donations and goods for local non-profit organizations and ministries. They have donated clothing & created fun activities for children in group foster homes, contributed food to local food pantries, collected toiletries for the women’s shelter, given blankets, coats, gloves, and hats to homeless shelters, gathered pet food for the local animal shelter – and the list goes on. In addition, the squads perform exhibitions for any benefit that they can work into their busy competition schedule.

Members of Cheer Force Arkansas are also given the opportunity to volunteer as on-stage helpers and assistants with the special needs team, Cheer Force Starlings, a program offered by Community Connections to special needs athletes in Central Arkansas. The Starlings compete at several of the Arkansas All-Star Competitions and are always a crowd favorite! The Cheer Force Arkansas “family” of coaches, athletes, and parents define the terms selfless and giving, letting their lights shine!

While this tells only part of what Sonshine Academy and Cheer Force Arkansas do for their community, it is apparent that this gym’s impact proves America Needs Cheerleaders. To continue keeping up with Cheer Force Arkansas throughout the year, follow them @cheerforcearkansas.