Connecting Compton is currently offering summer and fall programs that are focused on all-around ranching, which includes the opportunity to learn how to ride horses. (Courtesy Photo)

The organization is bringing everyone together through teaching the Equestrian lifestyle. 

When you hear the city of Compton, many things can come to mind depending on who you are and where you reside. Would you ever associate learning how to ride horseback, the ranching lifestyle or how to rope a steer with Compton? Well, Connecting Compton is doing just that with any and all who are interested to learn.

Hector Gomez and Daniel Zepeda have created a space where the community of Compton can learn about the equestrian lifestyle and much more. In a joint statement, the Connecting Compton team shared:

“By providing safe spaces for educational-based programs to operate, it will create opportunities for the youth in our community to develop as skilled and responsible citizens, while integrating the cultures of our beloved city in public, open space.”

The statement continued, “With an extensive background in education and positions of leadership, the Connecting Compton team offers exceptional experience with community engagement and education.”

Hector Gomez (left) and Daniel Zepeda (right) being recognized by Assemblymember Mike Gipson for their work in the community. (Courtesy Photo)

Connecting Compton was founded in 2019 with the mission of providing the community of Compton a place where individuals of all ages and all cultures can go with a sense of unity, belonging and pride.

“By building an equestrian center, it will not only improve the lives of children, adults, and veterans with cognitive, physical, and emotional disabilities through the benefits of therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-assisted activities; it will also provide a dynamic place for our youth, and everyone interested in learning about the equestrian lifestyle.”—Connecting Compton Team.

Their common passions and desire to serve the greater community propelled them on a mission to build the Compton Multi-Cultural Equestrian Center. Their goal is to provide the community with a safe space that will open doors to numerous resources and opportunities for the residents of Compton, and to keep the traditional agriculture and equine lifestyle alive for generations to come.

Gomez was born in the United States, but his family is originally from Mexico. A proud first generation Mexican American, he has a degree in Kinesiology from Cal State University of Dominguez Hills. Gomez is a physical education teacher and teaches middle school students.

“We give kids an outlet that not only helps develop character but that also gives them skills they can take with them forever.”—Connecting Compton Team (Courtesy Photo)

“I have been in education since 2015 and have had the opportunity to work for Whittier Unified, Compton Unified, the Boys and Girls Club of Metro LA and currently for KIPP: SoCal Public Schools which falls under Los Angeles Unified School District,” said Gomez.

Zepeda is a native Angeleno and the youngest of six from hardworking immigrant parents from Jalisco, Mexico. His family has owned a ranch in Compton, CA since the mid 80’s.

“Since I can remember, I have had the privilege to work with farm animals and learn the ranching ways through my parents’ Mexican culture and traditions,” said Zepeda. “I am blessed for this way of living that was truly different from the common city life.”

He received his associate’s degree in construction technology and later, transferred to Cal State University of Dominguez Hills, where he received his bachelors in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Physical Education.

Both Gomez and Zepeda are bringing together Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) within Compton together. Connecting Compton is a place where not only Black and Brown youth can come together and learn about one another but learn about the rich heritage both share in the equestrian lifestyle.

“We believe that through our work we have been able to gradually give kids an opportunity to be a part of a lifestyle that oftentimes can be perceived as unattainable and we give kids an outlet that not only helps develop character but that also gives them skills they can take with them forever, all while staying rooted to their identities and who they are.

“It is an amazing feeling knowing that we can serve as positive role models and bring together cultures and communities—we have so much in common!

“We fight the same fight and when we come together, we are stronger and better for it!” —Connecting Compton Team.

Connecting Compton is currently offering summer and fall programs that are focused on all-around ranching, which consists of: learning how to fully connect with the land, its animals and also get the opportunity to learn how to ride horses. Officially, they offer introductory lessons to horseback riding, overall ranching lessons that give kids the knowledge of not just horses but also getting familiar with chickens, goats, milking, cheese making and more.

“I would like to ask for everyone’s support and invite everyone to learn more about who we are,” said Gomez. “I believe that a project like the one we are proposing for the city of Compton will create a positive impact not only for our Compton community but for all other surrounding communities and the overall equestrian and agricultural lifestyle.”

“The Compton Multicultural Equestrian Center will allow for a larger more massive movement of unity amongst BIPOC and empower the next generation of Black and Brown leaders,” said Zepeda.

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