A riding school manager is raising funds to open an “equestrian boot camp” for inner city teenagers in London.
The idea, known as “Street Kick”, is to set up a centre running five-week funded courses, with accommodation, giving London’s teenagers the qualifications to start working in the equestrian sector.
Jaye Montebello, who runs Dulwich Riding Centre in south east London intends to open a brand new equestrian centre in the capital in early 2012, although a venue has yet to be found.
The Street Kick website was launched on 1 January and has already raised £60,000, with a target of £250,000.
“I thought it would be a five-year project, but we’ve raised so much in just one month,” said Ms Montebello, who has put her house on the market to help raise funds.
“It will be a social enterprise, with 50% of our profits going back into the community. It will be a viable business, so we won’t need any more funding once it’s set up.”
The business will make money through charging other clients, through fee-paying courses, livery, and manège and cross-country course hire.
Miss Montebello is working with two other riding instructors, Lucy Croot and Melissa Brooks.
She was motivated to start Street Kick because of help from local kids on her yard.
“The local kids put their heart and soul into it — painting stables, washing the indoor school, laying our new surface,” said Ms Montebello.
“We couldn’t have done it without them, and we want to give something back and help them to have the pride and vision that they can make something of themselves.”
Street Kick colleague Lucy Croot, 22, gained her NVQs at Dulwich Riding School, having left school with no GCSEs.
“I don’t know what I would have done without the horses,” she said. “I never rode before I was 15 and now I’ll be competing at Hickstead this year.
“I want to show others it’s possible to get an education while doing things you enjoy — and get paid.”
Brockley-based Theo Kovalesky, 14, started riding at Dulwich when he was struggling to cope with his parents divorce and couldn’t settle in school.
He is excited about being involved with Street Kick.
“Now I’m really settled in school,” he says. “I want to be an equine vet and I don’t care if I have to study hard. I have friends and a pony to look after. Maybe I can be Street Kick’s vet one day.”
The funded courses will be for unemployed teens and those with a history of social problems.
For information, visit www.streetkick.co.uk