We all know the critical role Police Activity Leagues play in bridging the gap between police officers and young people in the community, as well as providing a safe space for education and recreation.
As Program Directors, we know the usual programs to offer: basketball, football, maybe hockey, but… what about something unique that PALs in your area do not have?
We found these three unique programs. They’re each something you might not have considered before, but we think they may be a great way to increase engagement in your PAL program.
Five Innovative PAL Programs We Love
Urban Adventure Program
This type of program is designed to help build relationships between the youth and police officers by engaging them in an urban scavenger hunt that requires deductive reasoning, problem-solving skills, and team building!
Designed with fun (but educational!) challenges based off of local landmarks or historic locations – this could be a great addition to any PAL. Little explorers learn history, geography, and develop a stronger confidence navigating their community.
Explore your neighborhood and learn to work cooperatively with police, on the streets and in the public spaces.
Robotics Activity Lab (or Robotics Activity League!)
During these unique STEM programs, interested students work together in teams creating robots that use math, coding and engineering principles all while having lots of fun learning about STEM topics!
“It’s a great way to teach teamwork, competition, and STEM skills in a safe environment where everyone can have fun. Plus robotics teams often get invited to participate in regional competitions that come with opportunities for recognition and rewards”, offers one Program Coordinator.
At the end of each session there can even be competitions where robot designs are judged on how well they complete tasks assigned throughout each course period – which also adds more excitement into every class meeting!
Music Lessons Program
Music is a great way to learn new skills, explore different cultures, build community and foster creativity. If you have access to instruments or can find instructors in the area who are willing to donate their time – music lessons could be a rewarding addition to your PAL program!
“Music lessons can not only help foster collaboration between young people and law enforcement, but also give participants a chance to hone their existing skills or learn new ones” offers Program Coordinator and Curriculum Director Officer Janice Wilderman.
Not only will this give young people an opportunity to hone their existing musical talents but it also presents them with another outlet for expressing themselves.
Job Readiness & Career Aptitude Program
Often times Police Activity Leagues are seen as a place to build relationships between youth and police officers, but they can also be used as a driving force for success in the career world, and form connections with young adults in the community.
Offering job readiness classes or activities that focus on specific skills such as resume building, learning how to interview properly and writing cover letters can empower young people with the confidence needed when searching for employment.
By finding ways to introduce real life scenarios into exercises you’ll help participants understand how their current PAL experience could apply towards future success!
Visual Arts Program
Visual Art Programs can provide young people with the opportunity to engage their creative minds. It’s a great way to foster collaboration, develop problem-solving skills, and of course – show off talents!
The program focuses on creating projects that require artistic expression from painting to drawing, sculpting or photography. The possibilities are endless – making it easy for participants to find something that interests them and be successful in completing a project. This could even turn into an art exhibition where each student’s work is displayed for others in the community (with proper permission).
Developing new programs for your Police Activity League is an exciting opportunity to provide fresh, engaging activities that can benefit not only the young people in your community but also those running the program.
Developing new programs in your PAL
When creating a new program it’s important to understand what resources you have available and how they could be used to create something unique. Consider different ideas, research best practices and talk with members of the community, consult with parents as well as established PALs who are already offering similar programming.
When creating a new program it’s important to understand what resources you have available and how they could be used to create something unique. Consider different ideas, research best practices and talk with members of the community as well as established PALs who are already offering similar programming.
Remember this: Keep your audience in mind when developing the program you want to offer. Consider different age ranges, skill levels, interests and budgets so that there is something for everyone!
“PALs are an important part of our communities, bridging the gap between young people and law enforcement. When we create unique programs in these leagues, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.” explains officer Darryl Widman, a PALs Program Director at the Northeast PALs conference in December.
Creating unique programs can not only help foster an environment of inclusion and collaboration between young people and law enforcement but also provide participants with new skills they may otherwise never discover. Plus, it’s sure to be a hit within your community!
Further reading and more resources: