For over a hundred years, The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club has provided Philadelphia’s boys and men the opportunity to be a part of a positive community. Before the heart of downtown Philadelphia was known for its poverty stricken neighborhoods with abundant drug activity and high unemployment rates, the African American community of Fletcher Street was thriving, and out of that community men began saving horses from slaughter and giving them a new home in the city’s urban stables.
In an interview with Temple University, longtime proponent of Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, Ellis Ferrel said, “A lot of kids would come around the stable, who wanted their own horse. They reminded me of me. I would assign them to a horse to take care of, and it helped teach them responsibility and respect. They learned to respect the horses and respect themselves, and they learned to respect others.”
The mission of The Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club is to save the historical aspects of Philadelphia’s community, and most importantly, its children. Through riding, the club offers a safe environment, mentorship, lessons in responsibility, discipline, and reward. The men who keep the club alive are sometimes the only support the young equestrians have in their lives.
However, as old buildings get demolished and new housing takes their place, the original 50 stables once throughout Philadelphia continue to dwindle and get closer to extinction. The interesting juxtaposition of horses trotting through urban settings and numerous personal stories from the Fletcher Street community inspired the documentary, “Fletcher Street,” a film that hopes to raise awareness and “shed light onto a neighborhood worth saving.”
To learn more about the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club visit www.fletcherstreeturbanridingclub.com.