PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Out of school and off the streets. In an effort to keep Philadelphia’s children safe, the Police Athletic League wants to remind families their facilities are safe spaces for teens.
The director of Ford PAL Recreational Center says their centers are there to help the young kids and steer them in the right direction.
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As the city strives to find safe havens for kids, PAL workers want to remind families that they offer a safe space.
“While the kids in here, I know they’re not getting shot at,” Philadelphia Police Officer Joe Ellerby said. “I know they ain’t doing no shooting. I know they’re getting positive love and energy.”
Ellerby has served as the center director at Ford PAL Recreational Center in South Philly for more than 20 years. His passion and enthusiasm from him to help and inspire kids are felt community-wide.
Ellerby says the kids are missing guidance. He pours his heart and soul into helping them. That also includes setting any kinds of beef the kids may have with words, not violence.
There are 16 PAL centers citywide. Right now, they’re open from 3 pm to 9 pm Monday through Friday. Once school is out, the hours will shift from 1 pm to 9 pm Monday through Saturday.
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Munir Williams says he’s been attending the center for years.
“Help me with homework, activities, sports. All different kinds of things,” Munir said. “I can just stay away from trouble.”
“It takes teamwork and it’s not something a mother or father can do to keep your kid out of it,” Haneefah Williams, Munir’s mother, said.
Ellerby says PAL keeps the kids active, sets them up for successful careers and offers endless advice and resources. He says sometimes his kids face challenges.
“Can’t go to school because the person that [their] friends are beefing with are outside waiting for them,” Ellerby said. “So it’s hard to go to school when someone is trying to kill you.”
To help keep teens safe and off the streets at night, Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson wants to modify the teen curfew. She wants to change it to children 13 and under in by 9:30 pm, 14 to 17 would need to be inside by 10 pm Right now, 16- and-17-year-olds must be in by midnight.
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Gilmore Richardson will present this change at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.