Compton used to be filled with cowboys. See how one mom brought them back.

When you think of Compton, California, a few things come to mind.

You might think of rap legends N.W.A. and their three-time-platinum album "Straight Outta Compton" or the Los Angeles suburb's history of violent crime and gang wars in the 1990s.

But odds are, you don't think of cowboys. Until now.


Ivory McCloud and his friend Mike Jones ride along a path under power lines in Compton. Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

Before Compton was anything, it was a cowboy town. And for many residents, it still is.

The city has undergone multiple transformations since its incorporation in 1888. It's been majority white and majority black, and now the population is majority Hispanic. But the horses have remained a constant.

"My dad was a cowboy. I'm a cowboy. I grew up in Compton. I live in Compton," horse trainer Ivory McCloud told the Associated Press.

McCloud and Jones ride down a street in Compton. Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.  

Richland Farms, one of Compton's four neighborhoods, is zoned for agriculture and always has been. In fact, when Rev. Griffith D. Compton donated land to create the city in the 1880s, he specified that Richland Farms be used that way.

Today, the backyards in this semi-rural section of Compton are still large enough to keep horses and other livestock.

"In our neighborhood, there's about 400 homes, a couple hundred horses, and some goats and cows and chickens," Richland Farms resident Mayisha Akbar told the Associated Press.

Akbar moved her family to Compton more than 30 years ago, namely so her kids would have room to ride horses.

She grew up taking care of animals in Harbor City, another semi-rural town about 10 minutes south of Compton. As an adult, she was raising her family in Torrance, California, and working as a real estate agent when she came across Richland Farms and never looked back.

"I was looking for property for an investor and came to Compton ... and thought it would be a wonderful place to raise my own kids, so we moved over," she said. "But then [I] realized that the community was much different from where we had come from."

Mayisha Akbar greets a horse at the Compton Jr. Posse facility. Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

Just as her family arrived, Compton took a turn for the worse. Gang and drug violence reached its peak. Parents and grandparents in her community were desperate to offer their kids safety and support. Akbar invited many of the children over to her house and started teaching them about horses to keep them busy and out of trouble.

As word spread about the project, many suggested Akbar officially form a nonprofit so she could accept donations to keep the good going. In 1988, the Compton Jr. Posse was born.

For nearly 30 years, the Compton Jr. Posse has served this diverse community.

Through the organization's year-round programs, kids learn about riding, equine science, nature, and the outdoors. They even get involved in community service. The programs are available on a sliding scale, and Compton Jr. Posse has served thousands of kids in its 28-year history. This summer alone, more than 300 kids attended sessions!

Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

The young riders groom and care for the horses.

Adrina Player, 9, places a lead on a horse. Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

They clean out and manage the stalls.

Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

They prepare their minds and bodies for the work ahead.

Kids exercise prior to riding horses at the Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrian Program. Photo by Richard Vogel/Associated Press.

And get to work learning the ins and outs of this challenging, competitive sport.

Photo courtesy of Compton Jr. Posse/Facebook.

There are also opportunities for students to participate in competitions and put their science knowledge and new skills to use for their community and country.

Compton Jr. Posse participants have advocated for equal access to the outdoors in Sacramento and represented the U.S. at the World Ranger Congress in Arusha, Tanzania and the International Conference of Outdoor Interpretation in South Korea. Jr. Posse riders have competed in countless regional and national competitions.

"Part of what happens when you are in a program like this, especially competing in horse shows, is that it takes you into communities that don't look like your own community," Akbar said. "So the people that we engage and develop relationships with are people that can help them with their future careers and help them go to college."

Nathan Allan Williams Bonner riding Cuba in a competition. Photo courtesy of Compton Jr. Posse/Facebook.

That's right, Compton Jr. Posse continues to support students after graduation.

22 CJP alumni are enrolled in college this semester. Each semester they stay in school, they're eligible to earn a scholarship from the organization. Many also return to Compton Jr. Posse during summer breaks to teach the next generation of riders.

"We encourage them to come back and pay it forward," Akbar said. "Last summer we hired 26 of our alumni students to come back and work our school camps."

Photo courtesy of Compton Jr. Posse/Facebook.

The cowboys (and cowgirls) of Compton are remarkable young people carrying on the tradition of their city's deep agricultural roots.

The lessons they learn and skills they build with the Compton Jr. Posse (like patience, persistence, confidence, and trust) will carry them to bold, bright futures. Possibly on horseback.

"They're just kids," Akbar said. "They want to belong. They want better for themselves and their families. Our program has opened their eyes to possibilities."

Photo courtesy of Compton Jr. Posse/Facebook.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The ethical issues at the heart of diamond mining, from violence to human rights abuses to forced labor, are no secret. The destruction of land and water in the mining process is also well known. Though an official chain of practices for creating "conflict-free" diamonds known as the Kimberley Process is supposed to reduce some of these issues, ongoing problems remain.

Science has a solution.

Instead of digging up gemstones that have taken a billion or more years to form in the earth, scientists can now make diamonds in a lab in just six to ten weeks—without the bloodshed and devastation involved in mining traditional diamonds.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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