Youth Show Their Spirit at South Texas Pep Rally

Earlier this summer, all eight of the shelters in our South Texas region joined together to hold their first “Unity in One” pep rally since 2019In the past, we’ve held all sorts of events and field trips for youth in our shelters, but the arrival of COVID-19 meant putting those plans on hold. Now that we understand the best safety measures for COVID prevention, events like the “Unity in One” pep rally are back in the works! 


Special events like the “Unity in One” pep rally allow each of our shelters (or “casas”) the opportunity to celebrate themselves and each other! This year, each casa presented one or more routines like rehearsed songs, choreographed dances, cheer routines and even drumlines 

Curious about the casas and each of their mascots? Check out the full list below: 

  • Casa Nueva Esperanza (Brownsville, TX) – Lobos 
  • Casa Rio Grande (San Benito, TX) – Scorpions 
  • Casa Antigua (San Benito, TX) – Eagles 
  • Casa Presidente (Brownsville, TX) – Panthers 
  • Casa La Esperanza (Brownsville, TX) – Ocelots
  • Casa Padre (Brownsville, TX) – Pirates 
  • Casa Oasis (McAllen, TX) – Broncos 
  • Casa Sueno (Weslaco, TX) – Heffalumps 

As part of the celebration, the youth were given the chance to award one casa the Golden Megaphone, which is given to the group with the most spirit and energy! Children used noisemakers, musical instruments, and their own voices to cheer for their favorite routine.  

And at the end of the rally, Casa Padre took home the Golden Megaphone. Congrats Pirates! 

SWK Casa Mascots logos


Of course, we were never going to hold a pep rally like this if we couldn’t ensure the safety of every child and staff member who arrived. Even armed with so much knowledge of COVID safety procedures, we still wanted to understand the risk and mitigate it wherever possible, especially with the delta variant circling around the nation this summer. 

Our risk and safety team evaluated the venue and helped create safety standards just for this event, including social distancing measures, requiring masks and ensuring that only youth who had been medically cleared would attend. (What does it mean to be medically cleared? When a child arrives at our shelters, our medical team helps them with quarantining and testing until the child is safe and testing negative.) 


The “Unity in One” rally was an exciting start for our new event season! We’re always keeping an eye on our local health authorities for guidance when it comes to COVID safety, and as cases trend downward, we’re eagerly making plans to resume some of our past events for youth in our shelters. 

Previously, Southwest Key hosted prom dances, cultural events, sporting events, educational competitions (like mathletics and spelling bees), and even talent shows. As we’ve all learned in the past year and a half, it’s important to keep safely celebrating each other, even as we tackle public health challenges like a pandemic.  

Our staff were delighted the kids enjoyed the pep rally so much, which is more reason to break out the noisemakers and cheer on the casas next year, too. 

Learn more about shelter field trips made possible by our community partners. 


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