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Despite medical issues, teen cheers competitively, making a difference

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) – Ashleigh Johnson from Columbus Indiana teaches young athletes how to cheerlead. The tricks and stunts all come with hard work and practice but it’s her hard work off the mat that makes her special.

Johnson suffers from epilepsy, although her episodes have decreased over the last few years. She also has had nine surgeries for her ears which didn’t develop properly. Despite her medical issues, she still cheerleads competitively across the country and coaches at a gym in Columbus.

To allow her to do this, she doesn’t go to a typical high school. Her school is all online through the Indiana Digital Learning School. Every day, all she needs is a headset and her laptop to get a high school education. Johnson believes its changed her life for the better. 

“I’m healthier now that I do my school online because I can get more sleep and not miss doctors appointments, if I need to go to them,” said Johnson. “Therefore, I go to the gym and coach teams and go in and help them. I don’t think I would be able to build those relationships if I was at a brick and mortar building.” 

 “This is teaching her you gotta go out and go do it yourself,” said her mother Shauncee. “You are responsible for you.” 

Although Johnson just turned 16, she is a junior in high school, skipping a grade ahead. The school also allows her to travel anywhere in the country as long as she has an internet connection, which makes it easier for her during cheer competitions in other states. She also attends leadership conferences and gets straight A’s for all her classes.

Online high school takes a lot of discipline but Johnson and her family think its shaping her future like nothing else. 

For more information on the Indiana Digital School, click here.