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Photos courtesy of PAL/Ben Asen
Photos courtesy of PAL/Ben Asen
Scenes from Playstreets of summers past.

The Police Athletic League (PAL) has worked for over 100 years to inspire thousands of boys and girls throughout Brooklyn to reach their full potential by providing various recreational, educational, cultural and social programs. PAL’s legacy of supplying the youth of New York with a healthy environment for protected recreation continues this year with the kick-off of the 2016 Summer Playstreets Program in Brooklyn on Tuesday, July 5.

Children will be able to enjoy the safe, supervised areas designated for outdoor summer fun free of charge Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are 13 locations in Brooklyn, including one in Sunset Park (61st Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues), one in Bensonhurst (in the Marlboro Houses, between West Eighth and West 11th Streets), and one in Red Hook (at Coffey Park, Richards and Dwight Streets).

The program serves a trifold purpose: to target the pervasive obesity epidemic in our society, promote a sense of community, and provide an opportunity for children to get active safely in a setting they previously may not have been able to.

By closing off streets and utilizing other public areas, such as playgrounds and parks, PAL enables the younger generation to take back the streets of New York City and engage in organized physical activities.

Set in neighborhoods plagued with high crime and poverty rates, younger kids are encouraged to build relationships with local police officers. According to PAL’s website, 100 percent of residents and business owners believe the seven-week Playstreets Program makes their communities safer.

Thirteen locations throughout Brooklyn will transform into safe havens for outdoor summer fun, completed with athletic and recreational equipment.

Kids can keep busy with a wide range of sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, and board games. A site director, arts specialist and sports specialist are present at every site not only to offer supervision, but mentorship to the kids.

Fredrick Watts of the PAL said, “Playstreets is a signature program we have run for over 100 years.  This summer, we have created 41 Playstreets throughout the five boroughs — on public streets, in public parks and on public housing property.  We turn those spaces into supervised drop in safe places for summer fun, providing sports activities, board games, arts and crafts, and educational activities. We bring the summer camp into the neighborhood and serve close to 6,000 kids each summer. It’s the essence of PAL programming: Fun, educational, accessible to city kids, and free of charge.”

 The five-borough wide program, with nearly 40 New York City locations, will come to an end on Friday, August 19.

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