PHILADELPHIA, Pa.--Work to Ride hosted a groundbreaking ceremony as it begins to renovate The Chamounix Equestrian Center in Fairmount Park.
Work to Ride is a nonprofit organization that provides horsemanship education and equine sports training to youth from under-resourced communities.
A number of its youngsters have competed in pony races during the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association spring season.
Work to Ride has now launched the public phase of its $8 million capital campaign, and the organization announced that it has already raised over $5.4 million for the project which will update its existing outdoor riding arena and create an indoor equestrian arena for local, regional, and national equestrian events.
The project is slated to be completed by 2023.
“THE WORK TO RIDE barn has been a home away from home for young people from nearby dense urban communities for nearly 30 years," said Lezlie Hiner, WTR Founder and Executive Director, to event attendees. "They have learned to ride, worked hard, and have opened up amazing new possibilities for their lives. The proposed indoor arena and renovations will allow us to
expand our program to reach even more young people who can benefit from the experience.”
“On behalf of Mayor Jim Kenney and the Commissioner on Recreation, we are grateful to have the Work to Ride program," said Philadelphia Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. who attended the campaign launch. "I’ve been able to attend a polo match
and saw how lifechanging it can be for people who sometimes don’t get to leave 10 square blocks from their house. If you are able
to travel and see the world, it changes you forever as you realize that the world is a much smaller place. You actually have more
in common than you ever thought possible.”
Kareen Rosser participated in Work to Ride as a young boy and used the skills he acquired to become 2015 Polo Training
Foundation Male Intercollegiate Polo Player of the Year.
Now a financial analyst, is a board member and alumnus of Work to Ride.
“This program is absolutely life-changing," said Rosser. "Students who participate not only grow as athletes but develop life skills and lessons that follow them into adulthood.”
He tells the story of his remarkable polo journey in his recently published memoir, Crossing the Line: A Fearless Team of Brothers and the Sport that Changed Their Lives Forever.
“Beyond serving the youth of Philadelphia, our dream is that our demonstration program will inspire others to provide similar offerings so that one day every city will have its own Work to Ride program,” said Rosser.
Work to Ride is one of only a handful of programs throughout the country that use equine sports to improve the life prospects and outcomes of urban youth.
Recent success stories include 2016 graduate Shariah Harris, who received a scholarship to Cornell University and in 2017 became the first African American woman to play 20-goal polo; and Daymar Rosser, who with his teammates at Roger Williams University, won the 2017 USPA National Intercollegiate Polo Championship.
Founded in 1994, WTR has impacted the lives of hundreds of students through its year-round equestrian programs that promote discipline, self-esteem, motivation, social development, life skills, academic achievement, and physical fitness.
Student participants work to clean and maintain the stables and care for the horses in exchange for lessons in various equine sports, of which polo is a perennial favorite.
Work to Ride made history when three of its polo players became the first all-Black team to win the National Interscholastic Polo Championship in 2011.