MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Queue Up evolves into therapeutic horseback riding club


By Dorany Pineda

Contributing Writer

When it first started in the 1980s, Queue Up was a housing program for people in need. It took in young, pregnant girls and recently incarcerated men and women and offered them a temporary, safe place to stay.

The goal was “to help them get back into the mainstream of life,” said Candida Centieo, the organization’s program director.

But one day at a rodeo show, Corrine Paige, the nonprofit’s executive director, was approached by a disabled boy who asked her if he could ride a horse. Knowing in that moment that she had to say “No,” she told the little boy to come see her another time, and that’s how the nonprofit changed its course.

“We provide therapeutic horseback riding to at-risk youth, veterans [and] handicapped people,” Centieo said, including those with autism, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, developmental delays and learning or language disabilities.

“The need is to have them become more socially accepted, more socially integrated into the community” by being part of Queue Up Therapeutic Horseback Riding Club, she added.

For at-risk youth, giving them the opportunity to ride horses keeps them off the streets.

“By the time they get done dealing with the horses, they’re too tired to go get into trouble.”

The youth program, titled Royal Youth Rider, is intended to help inner-city kids become productive, well-rounded and responsible citizens through equestrian fundamentals. Part of their training includes learning proper horse stabling, grooming, feeding and saddling.

Every once in a while, youth are taken to field trips where they participate in activities like bull riding, team penning, barrel racing and more.

In addition to the hands-on, activity-based learning is also written work, Centieo said, which includes math, writing, reading and history.

And for people with other needs, Queue Up is there to offer help.

“In the back part of it is that we’re a family referral service program,” Centieo said. “Anybody who calls us on the phone, we refer them to whatever they may need. We will search and try to find it as long as it has to do with counseling, housing, medical care, children and family services, elderly abuse, children’s abuse [and] job referrals.”

Centieo estimates that her organization provides referral services to about 100 to 150 people a month. And as far as horseback riding members, there are between 25 and 30.

But with all the work and services it offers to others, the organization has been in need of some help itself. For the past several months, Queue Up has been working out if its truck, but is still offering whatever services it can while it gets back on its feet.

Though members have been riding out of South Gate’s Hollydale Park, which has a large arena for riding, Centieo said they hope to have their own therapeutic horseback riding center next year.

In the meantime, Centieo and Paige are working hard to get the horse club up and running again so they can continue providing a therapeutic space for the city’s veteran, at-risk youth and disabled communities.

INFORMATION BOX

Executive Director: Connie Paige

Years in operation: 20

Employees: 3

Annual budget: $54,000

Location: Hollydale Park, 5400 Monroe Ave., South Gate, 90280