Monday, August 10, 2009

Illinois State Crime Commision/Illinois Police Athletic League Offer Back-To School -Back Packs!

Illinois Crime Commission Police Athletic League's Jerry Elsner Challenges Fox 32's Pat Elwood to a few rounds in the Square Ring!Attention everyone!

The 3000 backpacks are ready, the t-shirts are ready, and, thanks to board member Mike Lanigan's donation, we have the hot dogs for the Back-to-school Free Fair for disadvantaged kids at Prairie State College on Saturday, August 22nd.

We are still in dire need of donations for chips, cokes, napkins, condiments, and, if possible, cookies, etc. Please send your donations to the office as soon as possible (PAL, 1550 Spring Road #310, Oak Brook, IL 60523).

We also need your help on the day of the event. Call me for details. 630.778-9191.
Jerry Elsner*

The Illinois State Crime Commission has recently expanded its youth outreach program through a new and exciting program - the Police Athletic League of Illinois (ISCC/PAL-IL). The Police Athletic League of Illinois is a youth- oriented program focused on athletics and recreational activities to tighten the bond between police, adults and youth.

The Police Athletic League is based on the belief that children, if reached early enough, can develop a strong, positive attitude towards police officers in their journey through life towards the goal of adulthood and citizenship.

Our Police Athletic League Boxing Program has so much potential to change the lives of many inner-city youth. It is a unique approach that reaches out to kids before they get into trouble and intervenes with kids the very first time they get into trouble - allowing them another chance to stay on the straight and narrow. We believe we could reach thousands of kids in the Chicago area if we had the proper funding.

The ISCC program supports the reduction of youth crime through two initiatives: 1) A Place to Go and 2) Operation First Chance ™.

A Place to Go
This is the cornerstone of our program. It consists of a number of neighborhood-based clubs (some in schools, some freestanding) that will provide a place for kids to go after school to participate in supervised boxing clubs that will afford them an opportunity to interact with law enforcement and "the system" in a positive way.

Kids would be expected to commit to a six week program that would immerse them in physical fitness, boxing, sportsmanship, and general good behavior. Future plans include opportunities to work with volunteers on such topics as help with school work, issues at home, substance abuse, and job mentoring.

All participants would be expected to keep up with their school work, remain sober, clean, and well behaved (i.e. no gang involvement) during the program.

The impact of the program would be tracked by the program coordinator who would be in touch with kids, parents and teachers to determine how each kid is doing on a regular basis.

At the completion of the program, kids would be eligible to participate in PAL boxing tournaments and to receive awards based on their standing.

It would be our hope that graduates of the program would volunteer to stay around and to help with younger more vulnerable kids. The benefit of this is twofold: increased reach for the program and a sense of meaning and importance for the graduates.

Operation First Chance™
We remain committed to providing opportunities for underprivileged youth. As a testament to our commitment, we would like to re-energize our boxing roots through a unique boxing program for at-risk inner city youth. The First Chance™ Program will allow us to sponsor first-time, minor offenders in a boxing program rather than have them incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility. Our purpose is threefold: 1) we will give these kids some pride and a chance to start over without the stigma and learned bad-behavior that so often accompany a stay in juvenile detention and 2) we will augment our role as "good citizens" of Illinois by proactively saving the state a portion of the approximate annual cost of $50,000 to house a kid in juvenile detention and 3) it gives us an avenue to connect individually with at-risk kids.

We are faced with a woefully under-funded set of constructive programs to serve the youth of Illinois. Nearly 70% of Illinois youth with working parents have no place to go after school, except the streets. For example, a recent study of Chicago found 17 neighborhoods receive low funding for teen programs despite suffering high levels of unemployment, teen pregnancy, gun violence, and other social ills. If we consider the plight of those with a recent minor run-in with law enforcement; isn't it better to expose them to positive role models rather than "the system" and the street?

On behalf of the Police Athletic League, we want to do our part in countering the number of kids we merely throw away by exposing them too early and too often to a system that devalues them and marks them as losers.

No comments: