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Animal welfare project ‘creation of the pathway’ for Limerick youths

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By Nyrenee Bailey and Dane Staunton

A Moyross teenager has earned a place working in the Irish racing industry’s heartland after taking part in an animal welfare project.

Lee Quinn of Pineview is now working at the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE) in Kildare after participating in a program developed by the Moyross regeneration office.

“My friend went to RACE to become a jockey, that’s what I wanted to be,” Lee said.

He was given a place on the program through the Garda Youth Division (GYD) after showing his interest in taking part.

Following work experience at top trainer Jim Bolger’s yard in Carlow and at Leopardstown race course, Lee tried for a place in RACE for the second time in 2016.

“I am proud to say I got the trials this year and started in RACE at the end of August. I have to get up really early and work hard during the day but I love it.”

The initiative, referred to as ‘The Academy’ aims to teach the importance of horse welfare, directing  kids towards careers in the industry while also giving them an education.

Andrew O’ Byrne, a youth worker in the GYD said; “It’s about the creation of a pathway, if you want to be a jockey these are the things you need to be able to do and these are the things we can do to help you,”

Speaking on the funding the scheme has recently received from the Department of Agriculture, Andrew said it will give more focus to the project and more time can be devoted to eventually expanding it across the city.

“It gives recognition and reinforces what we’ve been doing. It gives us somebody who will make this their focus and look after it 100 percent.”

Michael O’Kelly, of the Regeneration Office in Moyross says it is best to get the kids involved at a young age as it incentivises them.

“A lot of the youth are really into horses but by the time they get to 16 and 17, if they’ve lost out on the education part of the equine side then they’ve lost out. They’ve formed opinions on what they want.”

Both primary and secondary schools in the north of the city have been included in the plans.

Two more students are  set to follow in Lee’s footsteps this year.

“We can see the benefit that this project is having on lads that might have gone down a particular road. It’s not about a numbers game, if only a few lads go down a different road with this then I think that’s unbelievable.” Michael added.

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