PAL centers are a vital resource for Philadelphia youth and their families. As violence reaches an all-time high, and kids’ needs continue to grow, PAL is proud to have the ability to improve and adapt our programs based on our communities’ interests. PAL is constantly evaluating and expanding our programs to find new, fun opportunities to engage our kids.
This winter, The Police Officers at PAL had the opportunity to engage our youth by adding e-gaming to its list of activities. The Officers in the centers noticed the request for gaming was growing, and PAL not only listened, but quickly responded!
The John Madden Tournament was our first e-gaming program, and it was a huge success! For six weeks, eight centers participated in hosting an in-house tournament. At the end of the tournament, the top two kids from each center had the honor of representing their centers in the city-wide tournament. Each kid drafted their teams and played in a “bracket style” elimination tournament.
“Gaming is a medium that is thriving. Smartphones, gaming systems and PC ubiquity, has a daily audience in the millions. During the tournament, I noticed how kids from various neighborhoods in Philadelphia started cheering for one another. In some instances, if these youths interacted with each other outside of PAL, they would most likely have had a negative interaction. While gun violence in Philadelphia is spiraling out of control, this program kept a portion of our kids safe. For six weeks, at least 150 PAL youngsters were safely tucked away in their prospective PAL centers playing as a team and building relationships.” Officer Phyllis Young states.
The kids enjoyed pizza, hoagies, and a candy table while playing in a festive atmosphere at the Cozen PAL center. There were many close games and at times, you could hear the room erupt in excitement, including cheering from the officers! In the end, 16-year-old Jelani Calloway of the Harrowgate PAL center was victorious in winning the first ever PAL city-wide Madden football Championship.
This program was designed to boost communication, teamwork, strategic thinking, leadership, performance skills, and confidence building. Sometimes you must tear down a wall that’s crumbling and build a new one, brick by brick.