For the last 30 years, Kelly has helped children in Hartford stay on the right track through her nonprofit, Ebony Horsewomen. The program offers horseback riding lessons and teaches animal science to more than 300 young people a year.
- Patricia Kelly’s nonprofit is teaching horseback riding and animal science to children
- The nonprofit is giving at-risk youth an alternative to the streets
- Kelly: “We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing”
Hartford, Connecticut (CNN) — Fred Wright may have grown up on Garden Street, but his early childhood was far from rosy.
“It’s tough growing up here,” said Wright of his low-income neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut. “There’s a lot of negative influences. … It’s easy to take the wrong path.”
Raised by a single mother, Wright struggled with behavioral issues and was forced to transfer schools several times. He ultimately reached a point where he felt like he had nothing to live for.
“I was walking around with a lot on my shoulders,” he said. “I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t care about life anymore.”
But all that started to change when Wright met Patricia Kelly.
“I was 7 years old when I met Mrs. Kelly. … I wasn’t used to strictness. I wasn’t used to hearing the word ‘no,’ ” said Wright, now 17.
Kelly, a former U.S. Marine and an equestrian, took Wright under her wing and helped him find hope in an unlikely place: on a horse.
“Fred was like a round peg everybody kept trying to squeeze into a square hole,” Kelly said. “He was hurting. He needed a place he could express himself. The (riding) arena became that place for him.”
“We use horses as a hook to create pride, esteem and healing,” said Kelly, 66. “They learn that they have ability. They just have to unlock it.”
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