What if you could change a young person's direction in life? Would you do it?
After the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent riots that disrupted the nation, I began to consider what can I do to consciously contribute to my community and empower our people? And it was that question that lead me to developing a program that is now facilitated in three schools while based out of a ranch, Pure Horse Play, just outside of Atlanta.
A little over three years ago, I called a meeting with all of my closest family and friends. I asked them all to meet me at The Varsity and a few overpriced hot dogs later, we decided the best thing we could start doing is cleaning up the community. It’s hard to tell someone, “You can be anything you want to be” when their environment is not congruent with that statement.
In March of 2016, we identified a resident and painted her house, manicured her lawn, and picked up trash. We were quite ambitious as our goal was to clean the entire street, but when only 5 volunteers (including myself) showed up we immediately scaled down to just one house. However, we didn’t let that detour us. After just one year of hosting clean ups, we went from 5 to 120+ volunteers at a single clean-up, collected hundreds of bags of trash, and painted 4 homes.
Through divine connection, in 2017 I was brought into a local all male, African American school (situated just one street over from the houses we painted). There, we developed a character building program. Once a week for an hour, we had the opportunity to pour into 10 students. After the first school year, we saw a significant decrease in suspensions and behavioral referrals and it was then that we knew we were on to something.
Today, The Underdog Society’s program is facilitated in 3 schools and is based at a ranch, Pure Horse Play, just outside of Atlanta. Our program is twofold. The outreach component in the schools and the ranch component. The outreach component works in different schools with four simple goals:
Self-awareness: Children will be able to identify/ understand their emotions.
Self Management: Students will develop effective coping skills to help manage the emotions they experience
Self-Advocacy: Students will be able to make positive and productive decisions and communicate them effectively.
Mindfulness: Introduce the youth to meditation and stillness.
Youth will have access to the aforementioned component but with a small twist. The kids are taught to train and work with rescue animals (dogs and horses). In this setting they will also learn responsibility, accountability, business principles, confidence, leadership and so much more. But what we particularly love is that they have a place where they can go and feel like they belong. During meeting/ training hours our kids put away their electronics and build relationships with each other and with the animals. This connection to nature allows our youth to submerge themselves in our program and see complete transformation.
Vision: To see the underdogs of society live undefeatable lives of character and purpose that contributes to the transformation of their community.
Mission:We engage underserved youth in our schools through holistic and creative emotional wellness training that bribngs healing in their lives and awakens their dignity and dominion in a way sets them free to live undefeatable lives in society.
1. Schools contract us to work closely with their students struggling with obstacles in their personal life ultimately resulting in truancy, destructive behaviors, disruptiveness and poor character.
2. We bring a team of loving, emotionally healthy adults to begin mentoring the students and helping them prococess their situations and choices. We also offer creative, relevant and fun trainings that help the youth awaken to their potenital and begin living undefeated lives even in the midst of the hard situations they are facing.
Who do we serve? We serve the youth often forgotten and overlooked in the schools and on their way to suspension or expulsion.
Where? We are currently serving at Three schools in the greater Atlanta Area.
24 year old CEO, Freedom Advisor, and Public speaker, Jayla Phillips, was raised in South central, Los Angeles. Though she was not raised in the most favorable conditions she never let that stop her. From homelessness and poverty to domestic violence and alcoholism, the trauma ran deep. However, from the pain emerged a foggy path to purpose and eventually freedom.
During her tenure at Clayton State University, she learned about the death of a man named Mike brown. Filled with an array of emotions, she set out on a mission to simply do her part to give back to the community. From that birthed a series of neighborhood clean ups that would ultimately guide her to developing a youth program helping schools significantly reduce their suspension rates by 55 days in a single school year (almost two months of instructional time). Today, The Underdog society is conducted in schools across Atlanta during the week and on the weekends at Pure Horse Play Adventures, the family’s horse ranch.
Jayla continues working diligently to expand The Underdog Society into new schools and territories while speaking to audiences in search of freedom. She continues to expand her knowledge on best practices while remaining in a position to serve the community at large with one goal in mind: Learning and Advising on the many ways to experience Freedom. Freedom from what, you may ask. Simply put, experiencing Freedom from yourself. Learning how to get out of your own way so you can begin to thrive in your purpose and live a life of abundance.
In 2017 Jayla Joined the Restore Life team as a Restoration Agent and continues to grow her various endeavours through recruiting volunteers and expanding her donor base. If you would like to partner with her on her mission to transform and restore lives by donating or volunteering please contact her at: