Dear Horses in the Hood,
Hello my name is Latonya Diason, and I am a counselor with LA's BEST program at Weigand Elementary. I had the pleasure in attending horse camp along with 16 of my most deserving students. When I was first told of the opportunity you were offering the students at Weigand Elementary, I was in disbelief. I could not believe a program such as Horses in the Hood existed in the Watts community. When I was told of all the wonderful activities Horses in the Hood made available to students in low income communities, I had a smile on my face from ear to ear, and I couldn't wait to get to horse camp.
Enclosed are letters written by all of my students who attended horse camp. I have also included a photo of our group. That's me in the back row with the big smile plastered on my face! As you can tell by the picture, we all had a great time.
When we first arrived at horse camp, the students were a little intimidated by the horses. And I have to admit; I was just as scared as they were! I had never been around a horse in my life and can't even begin to imagine how my students felt the first time they stared upward at this huge yet gentle animal, which towered above them. Shortly there after, your staff made everyone feel confident around these beautiful creatures and soon enough we were riding! I remember explaining to my students on the way home after the first day at camp, how horses weren't allowed to ride on school buses. We came up with several interesting ideas on how a horse might be able to sit on a bench and possibly, possibly ride a school bus home with us. Needless to say, the subject of taking their horse's home with them was a daily topic. They missed their horses and did not want to leave them at camp.
I was very surprised to see how quickly the students took to the care of the horses' everyday needs. Watching children who had never even seen a horse, brush, bathe, clean the horses' feet and put the horse back in its stall was truly amazing! Each student took great care and love assuming that his or her horse was properly maintained. It just goes to show that if given an opportunity, children will surprise you every time!
I cannot thank you enough for giving the students at Weigand Elementary the opportunity of a lifetime. I know the week they spent at horse camp is something they will treasure always. Many still talk about returning to horse camp.
Having a place to ride and learn about these wonderful creatures is an asset to any community, not just low-income areas. Children need a place where they can feel safe and have fun without worrying about their surrounding environment. I hope your vision in building an equestrian center for the Watts community becomes a vision the entire community will embrace and help make a reality. The families in the Watts community could benefit enormously in having an environment that promotes responsibility, a caring nurturing atmosphere, and most important respect.
Once again, Thank you so much for making a difference.
- Latonya Diason, LA's BEST Weigand Elementary