Nashua Police Athletic League, affectionately known as PAL among local residents, has been helping kids stay off the streets and offering them a better future by bringing out their own innate abilities since 1989.
“We’re here to help break the cycle of crime,” says Shaun Nelson, Executive Director of Nashua Police Athletic League since 2007. “About twenty-six percent of the crime that happens in Nashua takes place within a mile of here,” he says of the charity’s location at 52 Ash Street.
In order to combat some of the harsher realities of life for poor and disenfranchised kids, the charity provides an oasis of positivity where they can learn, grow, and learn to embrace a strong mental attitude that will help them conquer their challenges in life. PAL also provides academic, athletic, and emotional mentorship that helps them meet specific goals and needs. They learn self-empowerment through PAL’s programs.
Staff members and volunteers lead by example, encouraging kids to pursue positive values and activities, such as community support through service projects, like the creation of a Community Garden along the nearby Nashua Rail Trail. The kids also get the support and develop the confidence they need to pursue good grades, and learn to help those in need, including other kids. The bonds these kids form with others and their community are invaluable in creating pathways through which they can better themselves, and ultimately overcome whatever life throws at them.
Nashua PAL serves about 2,500 kids citywide, with 400-500 enrolled in programs at their main building at 52 Ash Street. About 60-75 kids come to this facility every day, making it a critical resource for the city of Nashua. Some kids come every day, some come a few times a week, and others come for specific programs, depending on their situations. The first hour after school is always dedicated to completing homework or reading, but after that, kids can enjoy all that the charity has to offer. In exchange for contributing to their community or themselves, kids are granted a free membership to the considerable facilities at Nashua PAL.
Outdoors, there is a basketball court, skateboard park, and the Nashua Rail Trail is just a stone’s throw away. Indoors, PAL offers a homework room, media room, library and reading room, computer and internet access, dance classes, crafts, a game room, and a boxing and exercise facility. In fact, their boxing facility is a USA Boxing Certified gym, and the sheer volume of trophies on the wall is an indication of all the hard work the kids, staff members, and volunteers have put into PAL—it’s a sign of a deep affection for their community.
Perhaps most importantly, PAL teaches accountability, confidence, and self-respect. There is always a “PAL of the Month,” an award for a “stand-out” child, which might include someone who has turned it around and is now getting good grades, engaging in community service, or has excelled in one PAL’s athletic programs. They can earn recognition for their efforts, as well as small rewards, like gift certificates to local restaurants like ice cream hotspot, Hayward’s Ice Cream, or Burger King. Kids can also earn field trips.
PAL is partnered with the Nashua Police Department, which assigns a police officer to further the community policing model of getting to know local kids and families in an effort to engage with the community.
Please support Nashua PAL today! The charity is currently seeking support for its 2017 programs. For more information, please visit: BE A PAL!