The Hollywood PAL program, one of the largest Police Activities/Athletics League programs in the Los Angeles area, gives students a positive alternative to gangs and drugs.
It offers programs in martial arts, soccer and Hollywood Fit Club (marathon-training, hiking, dance and other fitness activities) six days per week to children under the age of 18.
Statewide and national PAL programs are intended to encourage children to build strong, trusting relationships with officers in their communities.
Hollywood PAL currently serves more than 450 youths between the ages of 6 and 17.
The program is nearing capacity, with more parents hoping to enroll their children in the program every year, said Valerie Lord, an executive director at Hollywood PAL.
With only three officers currently working with Hollywood PAL, the high enrollment rate has raised questions about the organization’s goals.
If Hollywood PAL chooses to admit more children into the classes, there may be fewer opportunities for them to spend time with the officers and build meaningful relationships with them, she said. However, broadening the enrollment would allow the program to reach more children.
Officers and children now in the program say they think programs like PAL can create real change in their neighborhoods.