Equestrians are changing the world, one stride at a time.
By KENDALL BIERER
Published Fall 2013
The blue and purple coats of JustWorld International have become a staple at horse shows across the world, with juniors to grand prix riders donning the recognizable colors. JustWorld International has become more than a name and a vision in the equestrian world—it has become a reason to ride. Jessica Newman, an avid equestrian and former competitor, created a link between the equestrian world and JustWorld’s humanitarian efforts by providing opportunities for equestrians to help those less fortunate.
JustWorld Ambassador Taylor Land. (SPORTFOT)
The wildly popular not-for-profit organization has worked diligently around the globe to improve the lives of impoverished children by providing nutrition, health, hygiene, education and cultural development. They will return as the American Gold Cup’s Charity Partner this year, with their signature horseless horse show and an array of fundraising events to support their mission. Last year, the partnership helped JustWorld raise over $18,000.
Jessica Newman in Cambodia.
JustWorld supports children in developing countries through its network of JustWorld Ambassadors, who pledge a portion of their annual winnings (or a donation) to the organization. The JustWorld annual gala in mid-January collected more than $420,000, and in 10 years, Newman and her JustWorld Ambassadors have raised more than $5.5 million used for sustainable outreach projects in Guatemala, Honduras and Cambodia.
The new Pio School in Cambodia.
Newman grew up in a privileged family with the opportunity to pursue show jumping on a full-time basis. She was the girl who had everything: a private barn, a string of elite horses and a top trainer. Her accolades include riding for the United States Equestrian Team in the Nations Cup competition and the Developing Riders Tour, as well as taking top placings in the World Cup-qualifying grand prix classes throughout North America. She was living a charmed life.
A mobile library visits children in Honduras.
Then at 22, Newman had an epiphany. The turning point occurred when she was studying International development at The American University of Paris, an exclusive school with approximately 1,000 students from 150 different countries. This opportunity widened her horizons and changed her perspective when she realized the pervasiveness of poverty in the world. Her eyes were opened when she realized the number of people who don’t have hope for even a sliver of the opportunities she enjoyed. She put her tack away, walked away from her life of privilege and jumped at an opportunity to work with the Trickle Up organization in 1998, shortly after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras.
That trip was only the beginning for Newman, for it was there that JustWorld International was conceived when she realized that her equestrian connections could lead her to help others. She researched partner organizations in countries suffering from extensive impoverishment including Cambodia, Honduras, Guatemala and Brazil. Her goal was to generate change for the local children, focusing on their happiness, health and education.
“I see JustWorld expanding and having a presence all over the world with the support of the equestrian community,” Newman elaborated. “It is beyond exciting to see how much it has grown. No matter what country I go to for an event, there is always someone who is involved with JustWorld.”
Since its inception, JustWorld International has supported projects in developing countries across the globe, with their main focus still concentrated on Honduras, Guatemala and Cambodia. Newman and her Ambassadors have successfully raised funds to build several schools, buy educational supplies, provide salaries for teachers, create a mobile library – more of a mobile school, fund community programs and provide vocational training. JustWorld prides itself on the sustainable projects they created to provide hope and a future for the children involved.
JustWorld Ambassadors in Guatemala. (Jeroboam Media)
JustWorld is about more than writing a check. It welcomes volunteers and supporters with open arms to visit the projects outside of their usual world. A cornerstone for JustWorld International became raising awareness and encouraging young people to make a positive difference in the world and then helping them share that knowledge and experience with others to achieve a domino effect.
For Newman, life began at the end of her comfort zone, and look at how much she has accomplished.