Almost reaching its 100th anniversary, the Summer Play Streets program is continuing to make it’s mark throughout the five boroughs.
The nonprofit Police Athletic League works with the youth of New York City and strives to prevent them from harm and provide a safe fun summer for kids. PAL offers youth employment, truancy prevention, play streets, after-school programs, truancy prevention, and other beneficial programs for children and teens.
Starting at the root, PAL was established thanks to Police Commissioner Arthur Woods and Captain John Sweeney and their idea of “cops helping kids helping communities,” in the hopes that “members of the law enforcement community would initiate prevention services to later avoid harsher intervention measures.”
The Summer Play Streets program begins with the NYPD targeting blocks in the different boroughs, which have drug, gang, or illegal activity and has an urgent need for a play street. Then the approval from the department of transportation to make sure the street is safe is needed, and lastly receiving permits for the streets.
July 9 was the opening of the Play Street on South 5 Street & Marcy Avenue. There are paid employees from PAL as well as Summer Youth Employment workers, ages 14 to 24 on site. The program runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday accepting children ages 6 to 16.
With mornings being slow, by the afternoon volunteers, workers, and kids are taking part in hoola hopping, jump rope, volleyball, playing cards, arts and crafts, face painting, or playing at the popular knock hockey table.
Workers withstood two full days of training in regards to conflict resolution, drug prevention, gang prevention, child abuse prevention and youth development. Workers are not required to be CPR certified, as well as the program follows similar rules that thereof summer day camps where they cannot administer medication to the children. The program also requires parents remain on the block.
“Several families during these economic hard times cannot afford to send their children to a summer day camp. This is their opportunity to participate in a totally free program,” said Richard Guevara, director of field operations for PAL.
At the end of each summer PAL take the kids on a trip on what they call “borough day.” All sites from Brooklyn meet at Parade Grounds Playground to play games, participate in rock climbing, enjoy food and take part in different contests as well.
Summer Play Streets will continue until August 24 with the exception of no Play Street on Friday July 27.