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Bronx youth enjoy safe, fun environment thanks to PAL

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A recent ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Bronx at I.S. 229 -- the Bro Roland Patterson School at 275 Harlem River Park Bridge marked the opening of the new Police Athletics League (PAL) Summer Play Sreet site, which runs through Aug.10.

At the site, 12- to 16-year olds are invited to join in a variety of sporting events, games and cultural activities in a safe environment.

PAL’s Summer Play Street program, founded in 1914, is designed to enrich the summer experience for youth in New York City by providing fun-filled places to play and learn.

The program is the result of a successful collaboration between law enforcement, local agencies and community members dedicated to protecting the safety of residents and improving the quality of life for young people.

The young people can have fun participating in a wide variety of sports, such as stick ball, volleyball and basketball, as well dance, cultural events, board games and supervised open play. The program also offers a prevention education component designed to reduce risk-taking behaviors and foster life skills.

During the weeks it is in session, the site will operate from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Admission is limited to 120 participants.

Financial support for the new site was derived from narcotics trafficking proceeds obtained during criminal prosecutions by the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. Over the past two years, both prosecutors’ offices dismantled entrenched drug networks that were operating in the immediate vicinity.

By supporting PAL, the prosecutors’ offices join in a cooperative effort to maintain the gains achieved when drug organizations are removed from a community, and to improve relationships between young people and law enforcement. The new Play Street site serves as a haven for youth who might otherwise be subjected to gang recruitment and other criminal activity, including violence and drug dealing.

New York City’s Police Athletic League is the first, finest and largest civilian-run PAL in the country. Founded in 1914, PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to over 56,000 boys and girls annually. It is also the city’s largest, independent, nonprofit youth organization.

Updated 7:58 pm, August 2, 2011
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