Ever since the arrival of Cheer on Netflix, us Brits have gone nuts for cheerleading.
The show has singlehandedly turned the notion on its head that the sport is little more than shaking pom-poms from the sidelines, to illustrate the extreme level of skill and athleticism required for the eye-popping stunts that these elite acrobats perform.
And one person familiar with the blood, sweat and tears needed for the mind-boggling routines, is Kim Mason – aka brainchild of the Incredibly Cool Events (ICE).
Kim, otherwise known as the UK version of Cheer coach Monica Aldama, is now on a mission for the world of cheerleading to be a more inclusive one.
This is why her company ICE , formed three years ago, organises cheerleading competitions and coaching for all regardless of age, ability or background.
The Midlands businesswoman, who grew up in Walsall, also wants to smash stereotypes that the sport is only about aesthetics and is exploring ways to make it more eco-friendly.
Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Kim said: “I started dancing at the age of five and competed until I was 18, winning a variety of national titles.
“When I retired from dance, I pursued a career in coaching. I set up a non-profit organisation to get people involved with dance, regardless of background or income.
“My project worked in some of the most deprived areas and gave some exciting opportunities to children and young people from disadvantaged communities, such as performing at the Hippodrome, performing alongside The Wanted at the Canon Hill Park Olympic Torch party, and five of the young people from the project ran with the torch as did I as I was nominated in recognition of the work I had done in the community.”
As well as reaching underprivileged kids, Kim also puts a percentage of her annual profits back into the cheerleading community.
In particular, she aims to reach grassroots teams who tend to need the most help.
One of the reasons Kim is so passionate about helping young people is due to the cost of costumes, classes, competitions and shoes required to participate, which many families simply cannot afford meaning children from deprived areas often miss out.
Kim is also looking at changing the merchandise at events to make sustainable and ethical products available, with hopes of making a limited edition hoodie or T-shirt that will see a portion of each sale donated to a charity that focuses on saving the planet.
She added: “Cheerleading is not only great exercise, but also enables people to learn about team work, respect and grow in confidence.”
Where do we sign up?!