Niagara Gazette

Opinion

July 22, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Niagara PAL in need of support

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Police Athletic League has been a staple in the Niagara community and Western New York for more than 40 years.

From an inauspicious beginning in 1967, the program rose from the Niagara Knights 105lb Tryo Football Team, adding a baseball league in 1970, to a basketball team in the National PAL tournament in 1974, to what exists today, 60 programs and sub-programs with approximately 18,000 participants annually.

Niagara PAL has been an innovator in youth programming. On the athletic side, PAL started youth soccer more than 20 years ago, hosts two outstanding basketball tournaments, the Mark “Chief” Williams Memorial and the Alan R. Elia Memorial annually. It established the Elementary School Run, the Elementary School Basketball League, girls and boys lacrosse and have hosted an Olympic Trail, the World University Games (baseball and gymnastics) and numerous National PAL tournaments in basketball, baseball, softball and boxing (Mike Tyson fought here).

PAL continues to provide a variety of quality athletic opportunities, instructional golf, summer basketball leagues for boys and girls, as well as summer, fall and travel soccer.

Sports are not the only areas that Niagara PAL has been the leader in creating new programming — Youth Court is a PAL endeavor, “Every 15 Minutes” a drinking and driving diversion program is an offshoot of Youth Court. PAL established Do The Right Thing, recognition for Niagara County youth that have done positive acts, Kidz & Kites, Breakfast with Santa, Halloween Spooktacular, PAL conducts a Youth to Youth Literacy program each year in the elementary schools, created the Affecting Youth TV Show on OSC21.

Niagara PAL kids have organized and hosted a National PAL Youth Leadership Conference in Washington DC for almost 500 youth from across the United States, they were the Keynote speakers at the Florida PAL Youth Conference, they ran two National PAL Youth Festivals at Niagara University and two Niagara PAL youth, Jeff Paterson and Katie Crocker Curry received the first Presidential Youth Awards presented in the U.S.

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