Cheerleader Charlie takes charge

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LEANNE Shea Langdown says her new series of short novels surrounding a young girl called Cheer Chick Charlie is a culmination of work she’s done over the past few years as a mum, cheerleading coach and life coach.

“At some point it hit me like a tonne of bricks that everything I had been doing; the coaching with adults, as well as the cheerleading, as well as all the books I had written in the past was all coming together,” she said.

“[Charlie] was inspired by all three of our children, but particularly around [my 12-year-old daughter] Tahlia’s want for becoming a cheerleader and it has grown from there.

“There is a little bit of every cheerleader that I have come across in Charlie. So that’s where the inspiration came from.

“And when I sat down to write book one, it just poured out of me. And then book two and book three, which is waiting to be printed.”

Leanne said the books are suitable for children aged five to eight. Charlie wasn’t about the “razzle dazzle” of cheerleading on the sidelines; the character was based on confidence, resilience and fitness.

“I didn’t realise how big this cheerleading thing could be, I knew that I wanted to [coach cheerleading] to help kids’ confidence,” she said.

“They are little girls, they have body image issues so early now that they compare themselves to the other kids, they might look different, but instead of embracing that they kind-of beat themselves up over it.

“And I thought, cheerleader! Only the most popular and the most beautiful and the most talented in the movies get to be the cheerleader – but everybody can be that person.”

Along with a line of merchandise with inspirational messages, Leanne has started an interactive website; working with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment to create an animated version of Charlie.

The Canberra Institute of Technology recorded the voice of Charlie – voiced by Leanne’s daughter Tahlia.

And each month “Cheer Chicks” – a group of young, local cheerleaders – will be featured in a short health and fitness video that will be uploaded on the website.

Leanne, a mother of three, who had her first children’s book “My Happy Gift” printed in the US last year, said the venture was helped through the ACT Government Innovation Connect program and also workshops through Canberra BusinessPoint.

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