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Our Opinion: Good money for good PALs

August 21, 2001

It would be easy to argue that no organizations in our county have made more of a difference in our young people's lives in recent years than the police activities and athletic leagues.

Aside from providing activities ranging from crafts to boxing, to help with homework, to soccer leagues, the PALs provide adult mentoring to our young people, many of whom need just that. On top of that, the PALs show youths that police officers are real people with real hearts, minds and feelings, thereby breaking down barriers, particularly for youths from rough neighborhoods who have always thought of cops as enemies to be avoided.

The PAL movement is relatively new in the Imperial Valley, but in the few years it has operated it has spread throughout the region, and done so with a depth of programs and large numbers of kids involved.

That four of our largest local PALs will be getting $52,500 a year, more or less, of extra money for the next five years is wonderful news. The Brawley, Calexico and El Centro PALs and the county Sheriff's Activities League are well-established and have a history of making positive impacts on the lives of young people.

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The money for the programs comes from a state crime prevention act that also will provide another $300,000 or so each year for the next five years for programs including probation officers on junior high and high school campuses in El Centro, Brawley and Calexico.

All these programs show our young people both that we care about them and are keeping an eye on them. Both are powerful messages to send to youths.

Locals have praised county Probation Chief Mike Kelley for his work in obtaining the grant. Kelley has done a lot of great things for the youths of this county and this is just one more. But we also must praise those officers heading the police athletic leagues and those otherwise involved. We rarely if ever hear complaints about how these programs are run, and believe us, we hear countless complaints about other youth activities programs in this valley.

This grant just means the county's PALs will get even bigger and better. And the best thing about that is the programs are already tremendous assets for our community.

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