PAL Youngsters Compete for Citywide Chess Title
Nearly 150 PAL members from all areas of Philadelphia competed to be crowned the King or Queen of this year’s Citywide Chess Tournament sponsored by Anne and Andrew Abel. The final night of competition was held at Temple University on November 21st.
The children played in two regional tournaments before advancing to the finals. Beyond the thrill of mental competition, the youngsters met and played against other PAL members while exercising strategy, discipline and reason.
PAL congratulates the winners in each age group: John from Rizzo PAL (12-and-under), Jaden from 23rd PAL (ages 13 to 15), and Kabreeze from North Penn PAL (ages 15-18). All participants were commended for their hard work and dedication and received a medal to commemorate the close of this year’s chess season.
PAL thanks Anne and Andrew Abel for their generosity and support of such rewarding and educational programming, and Temple University for continuing to provide a terrific space to enhance competition and exposure to higher education.
PAL Members Enjoy Hands-On STEM Program
Ten eighth through twelfth grade participants from Audenried PAL’s Boys to Men Mentoring group took part in a program to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The young men worked with local public artist Bevan Weissman to gain important skills while having fun and remaining safe after school. This mentoring program provided time for participants to interact with their PAL Center Directors outside of traditional programs and helped the students grow their professional networks.
During the first session, participants used alginate to create molds of their hands. Then they mixed plaster to fill their hands which dried into a sculpture. Engineer Mark Evans from McKean Defense Group spoke to the young men about connecting their new skills to careers. Mark stressed “knowledge is power,” and encouraged attendees to continue their studies after high school.
In the following weeks, the group visited Philadelphia Sculpture Gym to create a bridge model using popsicle sticks. They learned about solid shapes and were challenged to design the sturdiest bridge while meeting minimum length requirements and using the least amount of materials. After they voted on the most structurally sound design, the young men welded the model bridge and were impressed when it was strong enough for them to stand on.
PAL thanks Bevan Weissman, Mark Evans and Philadelphia Sculpture Gym for teaching necessary skills to PAL members while building their confidence.
On Monday, November 18, 2013, the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia welcomed a new executive director, Ted Qualli, to its talented team. Qualli brings years of non-profit leadership experience to PAL and is excited to help the organization actively carry out its mission of “Cops Helping Kids.” In order to introduce himself to the PAL community, Qualli recently sat down for an interview with the PAL blogging team.
1) What did you know about the Police Athletic League before you started and what was it that drew you to the organization?
When I worked for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, I remember PAL Day at City Hall because I was able to spend time with the PAL youth who served as DHS Commissioner for the day. We joked that she was my boss and that she should call for a press conference to announce she was sending everyone home early. That of course didn’t happen, but the actual Commissioner let her run a meeting, which I thought was a great experience for a child to see (and lead) the inner-workings of City government. I was drawn to PAL because it has such a unique structure and partnership with the City, which I believe creates a tremendous opportunity to help kids.
2) You have had a lot of successes in previous leadership roles. What organizational strengths do you bring to PAL from your vast experience in media, civic and non-profit leadership positions?
My biggest strength is a willingness to listen in an effort to gain a full understanding of the organizational challenges and opportunities. Effective communication is critical and so I place a lot of emphasis on ensuring decisions are informed from all levels and communicated with appropriate context. I also know what I don’t know and so am not afraid to ask for help. I often reach out to former colleagues, supervisors and mentors – the non-profit and government sectors are filled with resources and people who want to help.
3) The partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department is a key piece of PAL’s mission of “Cops Helping Kids.“ How do you envision working with the Police Department and Commanding Officer of the PAL Police Unit, Lieutenant William Eddis, and how will this partnership benefit the thousands of children PAL serves in its centers each day?
I’m really excited to work with Lt. Eddis and the Police Department. When I worked in the Mayor’s Office, I was fortunate to participate in numerous administrative and neighborhood meetings with Commissioner Johnson and his team. I was able to see and learn firsthand how the Police work to build relationships with the community. At PAL, we have an amazing opportunity to bring a Philadelphia Police Officer into the lives of neighborhood children through structured educational and athletic activities – with these relationships, we can open doors for children and make our neighborhoods safer. Lt. Eddis brings a unique perspective having been a PAL Officer and now serving as Commanding Officer of the PAL Unit. His insight and experience will be invaluable as we continue to develop our outcomes initiatives and programming.
4) What are your goals for your first few months as PAL’s Executive Director? What are your long term goals?
During the first few months, I want to get to know the team. PAL has been around for generations and there is a lot of institutional knowledge here. I want to spend time with Commanding Officer, Lt. Eddis and the members of his unit – the men and women who are on the ground working with the kids every day. We also have a great team of volunteers who I am eager to meet and support and I want to meet the kids and families we work with to understand what PAL means to them and their neighborhood. Long term, the goals are to standardize the PAL Center experience across the City so every PAL Center is equally inviting and appointed. We know we are changing lives and so continuing to build on the great work initiated in recent years around outcomes and data collection will be key.
5) When you’re busy at work and you’re swimming in on-the-job tasks, what inspirational song, artist or album is churning through the headphones of your iPod?
Great question. I love music and so listen to pretty much everything. On any given day, you may catch me listening to Elvis or Van Morrison, John Coltrane or G Love. I love Christmas music so pretty soon it will be my favorite holiday mix – a mix CD received as a gift some years back called Have A Holly Qualli Christmas. It’s all local artists (or those with some sort of local ties) singing various holiday tunes interspersed with WMMR holiday radio spots.
PAL Youngsters Experience the Judicial System through Mock Trial Program
After several weeks of practice, dozens of Ford PAL members performed their first Mock Trial on November 18th. Participants prepared with PAL Board Member Gino Benedetti, attorney Eric Meyer and students from Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law.
The lawyers and law students explained the case, and then helped PAL youngsters select a part to play in the trial: lawyer, witness, suspect, victim or juror. They drafted questions to interrogate the opposing side in order to prove suspect “Kiran Taufique,” guilty of kidnapping beyond reasonable doubt. After much deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the Defendant.
The trial was followed with a reception hosted by Dean Mary McGovern of the Earle Mack School of Law. Participants, many of whom see a law career in their future, created lasting relationships with the lawyers and law students they worked with.
PAL thanks all participants, attorneys and volunteers, Drexel University and Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge James Lynn, who presided over the trial.
Penn Dental Medicine Students Teach PAL Youngsters about Healthy Smiles
University of Pennsylvania Dental Medicine students visited Cobbs Creek PAL on November 7th to perform free dental screenings for more than 30 youngsters. Attendees also learned proper hygiene techniques and enjoyed healthy snacks with the student dentists.
Each participant received a status report card and goodie bag with a brand new toothbrush, toothpaste and hygiene information. Penn students spoke to each PAL youngster about the importance of dental hygiene and how to brush and floss correctly. Following the demonstration, children practiced proper brushing and flossing techniques with friendly puppets.
PAL thanks Penn Dental Medicine students for continuing to bring bright smiles to children in Philadelphia.
PAL Opens New Center in West Kensington
On October 29th, more than a hundred supporters, distinguished guests and community members celebrated the grand opening of a new center, Lighthouse PAL, located in West Kensington. PAL partnered with The Lighthouse to bring positive youth development services to a neighborhood in need. During the event, children decorated pumpkins and enjoyed dinner with their families.
The evening started off with a bang as percussion artists from ArtWell lead an ensemble of young children playing instruments while they paraded around the gym. Attendees heard remarks from PAL Commanding Officer Lt. Eddis, PAL Board Immediate Past Chair Sylvia Nisenbaum, Adopt-A-Center partners Anne and Andrew Abel, State Representatives Angel Cruz and J.P. Miranda, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez and The Lighthouse Executive Director John Lavery. Speakers encouraged guests to continue to support PAL’s mission and take advantage of the programs offered at Lighthouse PAL. Attendees also heard inspiring stories from P/O Steve Brennan who grew up attending The Lighthouse as a child as well as PAL youngsters Francheska and Daniel.
Lowe’s of Aramingo Avenue, Penn Charter School and the Philadelphia 76ers were presented with plaques for their volunteer hours and donations contributed to Lighthouse PAL.
PAL thanks Anne and Andrew Abel for their sponsorship of Lighthouse PAL and everyone who helped welcome The Lighthouse center into the PAL family.
KYW Newsradio and Comcast Boost Tacony PAL Computer Lab
Tacony PAL received ten brand new laptop computers courtesy of KYW Newsradio and Comcast. A group of children and Center Director P/O Bill Schneider were presented with the equipment on October 21st.
Many families in Philadelphia do not have access to the Internet at home. To address this, KYW Newsradio and Comcast teamed up through community event efforts to educate the public about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program designed to bridge the digital divide. PAL is fortunate enough to benefit from this collaborative effort and bring internet access to center so youngsters can complete homework and research projects successfully.
“By leveling the playing field and giving low income kids the same tools as their peers, they will be able to compete in a 21st century technologically savvy environment,” said Kathleen Sullivan, PAL Board Member and Vice President of Government Affairs at Comcast. “Comcast recognizes how important this is, and that’s why we launched Internet Essentials to make it possible for kids to have the Internet available at home and purchase computer equipment at an affordable rate.”
PAL thanks KYW Newsradio and Comcast for their donation to PAL’s Computer Education Program and helping to close the digital divide for families in need.