An innovative program which provides at-risk youth with the opportunity to develop life skills through athletics, mentoring and educational activities has received funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
The Auburn-Barrow County Police Athletic League (PAL) was created to help area youth develop positive attitudes towards authority and provide participants with the direction needed to lead meaningful and productive lives. The program is one of 135 nationwide that recently received grant funds from the Department of Justice.
Originally started in New York in 1914, the PAL organization was seen as a way to prevent crime by keeping youth off the streets and giving them a sense of direction and purpose. Research has shown that similar mentoring programs reduce first time drug use by 50 percent and first time alcohol abuse by approximately 33 percent. Additionally, mentored youth show improvement in academic performance.
Over 400 PAL member chapters currently exist to serve more than two million youth ranging in age from eight to 19.
The Auburn-Barrow County PAL program is currently focusing on Barrow County high school and junior high school students, but hopes to expand its programming in the near future. Among the programs offered is boxing. Auburn resident and National Boxing Association World Champion John Trigg has signed on to coach as part of the PAL program.
Initially, mentors will be paired with a child and will meet one hour a week for a year. Anyone interested in becoming a mentor should contact Deedra Wagner at 404-985-2571 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A meeting will be held Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. for anyone interested in mentoring, volunteering, coaching or tutoring. The meeting will be held in the court room in the Auburn Police Department building.
Registration for the PAL program will be held Saturday, May 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., also at the court room in the Auburn Police Department. Representatives will be on hand to answer questions about the program. The registration fee is $30. For more information, call 404-985-2571.