At the beginning of the season, the Colts Cheerleaders were presented with the Community Impact Challenge. And Ayda couldn’t have been more excited.
“Making a difference is something that we’re all passionate about and enabling us to go find our dream idea and empowering us with the tools to help make it come alive, it really touched me to be completely honest,” she said. “And it spoke volumes about how highly the organization views us and how much they value the impact we can have on people.”
When it came to choosing a cause to support, she knew she wanted to do something with kids.
“The news has been covering a lot about the bullying problems and the associated outcomes from bullying lately, especially in the United States. I knew that was where my heart was – thinking about kids that are just so innocent, full of life and excitement, and they’re just trying to be themselves and grow and live and eventually make a difference in the world.”
She wants to make a difference for them by partnering with a national nonprofit, Angels & Doves, which is based in Indiana.
“Their purpose is to prevent bullying, bullying injuries, and bullying suicides,” Ayda said.
Using a “full circle of tools,” they take an educational approach to end bullying through presentations to students and staff at schools nationwide.
“We would be focusing on school districts in Indiana covering K through 12 and our vision is to provide bullying prevention toolkits to these schools,” she said. “In addition to these toolkits, hold interactive workshops and presentations and implement peer-to-peer peacekeeping programs so we can ensure sustainability and accountability.”
And that’s where her teammates come in.
“We do have a lot of influence and impact that we can create. Everybody has struggles that they go through and certain experiences that they’ve had. It’s really powerful to share your experiences and how you dealt with certain things.”
Some of the cheerleaders were bullied themselves growing up.
“If they hear from somebody that this is a phase and it has nothing to do with you. It’s the other person that needs to work through some issues,” she said, "who knows the difference that could make."
And that’s what it’s all about – making a difference.
“We do have such a big platform and it’s important to not lose sight of that. The more you put in, the more you get out of it and the more of an impact you can make,” she said. “We all truly cherish this opportunity, so we’re going above and beyond to make the most of it and it’s truly exciting.”
Last week, they finally got to share their ideas.
“We’ve been waiting for that so patiently and so passionately,” she said. “We were waiting for the email from Coach Kelly to come saying, ‘You can share it with the world now.’ We all jumped on it. One organization will receive $10,000 in funds. But we are raising awareness for 26 organizations. I think that’s amazing.”
For Ayda, using the impact of the Colts to make a difference for kids is what being a Colts cheerleader is all about.
“They need to be empowered. They need to know that it’s good to do the right thing. A lot of kids know that in their hearts, they just need to be empowered.”