One of the latest initiatives of the Police Athletic League is to take drug money and give it to kids in the communities where those drugs were sold.
The Police Athletic League, a nonprofit group run by civilians, just opened a center in the Bronx in December. There, teenagers can escape the streets with basketball and other programs, all paid for by money confiscated in a drug bust that took place right around the corner.
New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan donated the money, according to Alana Sweeney, who runs the Police Athletic League.
“They’ve taken this money that was unraveling the fabric of the community, and now they’re using that money to reweave the fabric, to give the kids a chance,” Sweeney said.
The Teen Impact Center, at I.S. 229 in Morris Heights, hosts basketball, volleyball and dance classes for youths ages 12 to 19.
PAL builds such centers in neighborhoods the NYPD suggests needs them, she said — usually areas of high crime, poverty and unemployment.
“You tend to have an increase in the gangs. ... You tend to have higher crime in those areas,” she said.
Police officers also often swing by to shoot hoops with teens when they’re in the neighborhood.
“They felt it was important to have a place for the youth to be able to drop in and get off the street,” she said, referring to the cops.
They also sneak in some lessons, Sweeney said, hosting impromptu sessions around the games to talk about bullying and gang activity.
Opinion: Alana Sweeney
Come see what PAL is about
In the Police Athletic League’s 97-year history, many hundreds of thousands of New York City kids have benefited from our programs. In fact, many are now well-known leaders of our community.
Although the Police Athletic League is as vibrant as ever, many people who have recently moved to the city do not know about our organization. They are not aware of the many opportunities we provide for kids ages 2 to 19 in some of New York City’s most challenged areas.
Through this column, I intend to introduce you to our great nonprofit organization and its programs.
I hope that you will become as enthusiastic as I am about the creative ways we are helping children expand their horizons and you will join in supporting PAL, “the best friend a kid can have.”
– Alana Sweeney is Executive Director of the Police Athletic League.
Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.