As you know, for more than 100 years, PAL has been bringing children, police officers and communities together, primarily through education and sports. In recent years, we have been increasing our creative arts offerings, which has provided our young people and officers have more outlets to communicate with one another.
One example is a songwriting project with our program partner, Decoda, where NYPD officers and PAL teens worked together to create original songs. The project culminated with the officers and PAL teens performing their songs at Carnegie Hall in December. Initially some of our teens struggled with the idea of working with officers, since their perception of NYPD was less than positive. But at their first meeting at PAL Duncan Center, the 14 PAL teens and 11 NYPD officers began to chip away at any doubt that they may have had and real bonds began to grow.
Eight weeks later the teens and officers - along with the musical support of Decoda, a modular chamber ensemble - had composed seven thought-provoking songs. The night of the performance, each song was met with a standing ovation. It was clear to see that a true bond had grown between the PAL teens and the officers. Hugs and outward expressions of affection among the police and the teens were on full display. We have posted a few inspiring photos on Facebook.
I am so proud of our PAL teens and the officers who worked on the songwriting project. PAL has an incredible tool in sports to engage young people and cops in positive activities. Now, thanks in part to your support, we are also developing our young people’s storytelling and performing skills - that will help them in school and in life.
Frederick J. Watts
Executive Director, PAL