Friendship Village's Pom Pom Squad-in Chicago Tribune

“Girls just want to have fu-unnn.” The truth, according to Cindi Lauper, is demonstrated, as well as danced to, at Friendship Village senior living community in Schaumburg, where a group of the girl residents have launched their own pom pom squad. And fun is exactly what they have.

The idea for a pom pom squad originally came about after a group of residents were inspired by the movie Poms. Starring Diane Keaton, the 2019 film is about some women who form a cheerleading squad at their retirement community. “The Friendship Village residents thought it would be fun to start a program here, similar to the one in the movie,” said Jill Steco, lifestyles director. Always interested in introducing programming based on residents’ interests and requests, Steco was enthusiastic about the idea. However, when COVID started, the opportunity to bring some young cheerleaders from area high schools on-site to teach the program was impossible. So Steco, who had been captain of a pom squad in high school and college, ‘stepped’ in and agreed to lead the class. “It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to do things. I thought, ‘I’ve done this and enjoyed it, and it’s great exercise,” she said. 

During COVID, while the residents were remaining safe within their apartments, Steco produced videos of sections of the routine. She shared these with her ‘squad’ so they could view them on TV and mirror her, practicing remotely. With residents and staff vaccinated early on and programming carefully reopening, the team has been able to shake their booties in person. There are approximately one-dozen participants, ages 79-93. They debuted for their fellow residents, dancing to the Lauper hit. They earned rave reviews.

Squad member Arlene Burke (79) said, “This brings back fond memories for people who did pom poms in high school or college, and fulfills dreams for people who just always wanted to, in which case, ‘what are you waiting for? You’ve got nothing to lose! It’s just so much fun!”

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