The Compton Jr. Posse (CJP) was developed to provide inner-city youth with year round, after school alternatives to the lure of the gang and drug lifestyles.
For more than 20 years, the Compton Jr. Posse has given inner city kids hope by teaming them with horses, and through equestrian activities, youth develop responsibility, discipline and self-esteem. They also learn to set and achieve both academic and career goals.
“When I moved into the community, I simply saw a need and moved forward with (filling) it. I grew up in a rural community, and even though I lived in the projects there were lots of horses and cows and other animals around, which is how I became familiar with them,” said founder Mayisha Akbar. “A couple of years ago after I became a divorced single parent, I thought a similar type of community would be good for my children to grow up in. (So, she moved to the Richland Farms area of Compton). Soon after living in the community my children began to make friends with other kids in the neighborhood and even they saw the need.
“They started inviting children over to the house to eat and hang out and before long my house became the hangout. On any given weekend, there would be 15 to 20 kids at my house. I figured it would be a good idea to give them something fun and productive to do so, I had them start helping out with tending to the animals, building fish ponds, etc.”
Akbar remembers that many of these students weren’t even attending school so she began to require them to go to school, helping them get in, if necessary, and she started a tutoring program for them as well.
The Compton Jr. Posse leverages the rich equestrian heritage of the community to give inner-city youth a self-development focused program, that teaches the value of education, hard work, career planning and making positive contributions to society.
The CJP recently developed its first competitive squad called the Inner City Equestrian Team and a charter school that integrates equestrian-based activities with an educational program.
“We recently formed a high school team partly because colleges had contacted us to see if students wanted to apply for equestrian scholarships. But they could only apply, if they had competed in high school. When we would go to these competitions, we didn’t have the money to stay in the hotels and have our horses boarded on campus like the other competitors.”
Akbar recalls the team having to camp out in the park with their horses and wake up at 4 a.m. to start preparing. Two schools, Palos Verdes and Santa Monica High saw the lengths the Compton team went to compete and volunteered to become sister schools. They helped the team to raise money so they could stay in hotels and keep their animals on campus during competitions as well.
“The Posse truly teaches these youth the value of hard work and education, and the students actually become like ambassadors. Because there isn’t anything like this in our community, we have to travel to other high-end areas to compete in these types of activities and the students run into a lot of people from diverse backgrounds. They also get an opportunity to visit neighborhoods that they wouldn’t normally.”
Akbar said the most important aspect of CJP is that it keeps young people off of the streets and out of gangs by offering all the things that gangs offers like safety, camaraderie, and an adrenaline rush, while simultaneously being a positive reinforcement in their lives and teaching them life skills.
The Compton Jr. Posse will hold a fundraiser on May 21 at 5:30 p.m. to raise money for the team. The students will put on a musical and there will also be dinner, dancing, a silent auction, celebrity guest speaker Glynn Turman (actor and equestrian) and the Posse will honor NBC’s Kathy Vara, who is also an equestrian. Pat Prescott will be the mistress of ceremonies.
For more information on the Compton Jr. Posse and to register for the fundraiser, visit the organization online at www.comptonjrposse.org.