Trips up and down the east coast for polo matches, weekends competing in point-to-point races, a birthday in Argentina being mentored by high-goal professionals, and playing polo in Nigeria with your sister all sound like the life of the elite. This was the experience of Shariah and Marc Harris as well as other students of Philadelphia’s Work to Ride program.
According to www.worktoride.net, Work to Ride was founded in 1994. It is a 501 c3, nonprofit community-based prevention program that aids under-resourced urban youth through constructive activities centered on horsemanship, equine sports and education. In other words, it’s making horses and opportunities accessible to kids, who otherwise would likely never see the outside of their city, much less the outside of an airplane. And what happens when these kids travel?
Kareem Rosser, a Work to Ride graduate who chronicled his journey from growing up in a west Philadelphia community devastated by poverty and violence to national polo success in his book, Crossing the Line, says one of the greatest things W2R gave him was exposure. In our conversation on the LiveRideLearn Podcast he says, “The fact that I had the opportunities to go to places like the Hamptons and even different parts of Philadelphia – leaving the Bottom where I grew up and just seeing a different side of the city, I know that there’s other stuff out there. And that in itself inspired me to try and go and do something different. I think there’s a lot that people simply don’t know.”
Shariah Harris, a 2022 graduate of Cornell University, says their mom set the expectation to attend college early on. But she adds, “I like to say that Work to Ride and polo is the reason I went to Cornell because if not for playing their high school and college teams I’m about 95% sure I never would have applied.”
It’s clear that Work to Ride is giving kids something more to look forward to, expanding their horizons, and as anyone who’s taken care of a horse would understand, it’s developing responsibility to a life outside of their own.
The graduates are carrying those lessons on to their futures while keeping an eye on the next generations. As everyone from Work to Ride gears up for September 24’s inaugural Philadelphia Polo Classic to raise money for new state-of-the-art facilities, Marc Harris says, “I hope to see the future generation surpass myself in talent, knowledge, and opportunity.”
To hear my interview with Work to Ride graduates and siblings Shariah and Marc Harris, check out the LiveRideLearn Podcast.
For tickets or to learn more about the Philadelphia Polo Classic, click here.
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