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High School Girl Overcomes Hearing Impairment To Cheer Without Fear

BENSALEM, Pa. (CBS) — At a homecoming practice inside of the Bensalem High School gym, there is a freshman rising to a challenge.

Alice McGivern’s passion for cheer has not been halted by the fact that she’s deaf.

“What is it I love about cheerleading is, interacting with other cheerleaders and and being a flyer and all the fun stuff that we do in cheer,” she said.

McGivern says she lost her hearing when she was a small child.

But she is able to understand those around her thanks to her cochlear implants, a surgically implanted electronic device that allows the hearing impaired to process sound. McGivern also has an interpreter with her at school and during activities.

“I can hear everything the same as everyone but when its like loud backgrounds, then I can’t understand what everyone is saying, so that’s why I have my interpreter,” she explained.

When McGivern is up in a stunt, she cannot be looking down at an interpreter, so what her teammates do is give her a series of taps on her legs, so she knows whats coming up next.

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“It was never a big deal,” Alexis Beckett, a senior cheerleading captain said. “It was never, ‘We have to treat her different.’ It was just like any other girl.”

Karen Sibley, a Bensalem High School cheer coach, said, “(McGivern) just fits right in with the team. No one who comes to practice would think there’s anything different.”

McGivern says the exterior portion of her implant will sometimes come loose during stunts but with a little tape, it’s no big deal.

Not letting challenges keep her from excelling is why McGivern can dream of bigger things.

“I want to go to college for business, because I want to open up a hair salon,” she said. “So when deaf people come over, I can be able to communicate to them because when I take out my cochlear implants, I hear nothing.”

By definition cheerleading is a sport that relies on sound but also leadership.

“It’s nice to see that just because you could be different it’s not a limitation whatsoever,” Delphine Rawls, a Bensalem High School cheer coach said.

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