Debbie and Doug Hackman, riding members of Princess Anne Hunt (VA), saw a need for teenagers in their community to have an after school venue offering constructive and positive opportunities. They started XZone, a 501c3 that focuses on arts, education, sports, tutoring, and mentoring. At its Annual Block Party event in September, the couple brought their mare, Freedom's Belle, to interest teenagers in learning to ride, and I spoke about the traditions of foxhunting.
Freedom's Belle makes a new friend on behalf of XZone and Princess Anne Hunt. Photo courtesy of Michael Maddocks.
XZone's purpose is to reduce risky behaviors after school while parents are at work, and make sure every young person has a sport or activity they are passionate about. Statistics show that if a child participates in a sport, they are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. The nonprofit was founded 15 years ago in Chesterfield County by the Hackmans, and has grown to provide encouragement with homework as well as transportation for after school athletics and other cultural offerings.
Debbie Hackman says, "Our mission is to empower the lives in our community by building character and self esteem. We help teens to be successful at school and in a sport or activity of their choice." The couple remains on the board.
Maddocks and Belle greet participants at the XZone event. Photo courtesy of Michael Maddocks.
The Annual Block Party includes a variety of games and prizes for teenagers and adults. Freedom’s Belle was a gentle and popular attendee who piqued everyone's interest in learning to ride. If a teen joins the after school program, the XZone will provide transportation to Rose Equestrian at Keystone Acres for horseback riding lessons. I enjoyed explaining foxhunting to the families, hopefully fostering a positive understanding of our sport. The organization can also help connect young people with golf, tennis, music, dance, voice, and drama lessons.
Getting ready to spread the word about the fun of foxhunting! Photo courtesy of Michael Maddocks.
The XZone has buses that pick up youngsters from 15 Chesterfield County schools. There are lots of fun things for them on site: paintball and airsoft fields, a skate park (Chesterfield County Parks & Recreation Partner), computer lab, volleyball leagues, baseball leagues and training, softball leagues, Certified Teacher for help with homework, tutoring provided by University of Richmond and Virginia State University students, and mentors assigned to each student.
Hackman adds, "We have 120 acres to eventually develop the 'Adventure Zone' with baseball softball fields, a stadium/amphitheater, indoor recreation center, dormitories, zip line into the lake, BMX bike track and more."
For more information, visit XZone's website.
To learn more about Princess Anne Hunt, visit their website.