OKC Police Athletic League Gets Help With Facility Renovations
Oklahoma City's Police Athletic League is dedicated to building bonds with local kids through positive interactions, but the old building officers have been operating was in desperate need of some TLC. Volunteers and businesses are chipping in to change that.
The facility has not seen much change since PAL moved in 2010, but now, it is getting a major overhaul.
Three days out of the school week, police bus dozens of Capitol Hill Middle School students to the center for both education and entertainment.
“We’re going to make sure that they’re fed, that they’re taken care of,” said Oklahoma City police Master Sgt. Gary Knight. “They’re getting help with their homework. They’re getting mentored. We’re trying to do as much for them as we can to make sure they have the best advantages going into adulthood.”
The interior could look more inviting, though. Right now, officers and volunteers are working side by side to upgrade the lights, paint and overall look.
“One of the biggest things is … the windows,” Oklahoma City police Capt. Susan Kennedy said. “Those windows have been here literally since the building was built in the 1950s. … We can’t see out the windows to see out onto our basketball court, and see, that’s a problem for us.”
Donors have already provided new windows, but PAL is still looking for a mural artist, as well as help with a long stainless steel countertop to hold their new computers. Officers are also hoping for help buying a new fridge, freezer and grill for all the food that restaurants regularly donate.
Police will be expanding their afterschool program to serve more kids next year, and hope to continue to make a difference in the neighborhood.
“We’ve found that kids who are involved with this program are more likely to become involved in athletics, do better in school,” Knight said, “which means they’re less likely to turn to crime or gang life.”
Kennedy said, “I thing they’re just going to be amazed, and their enthusiasm is infectious to us.”
The renovations will be complete just in time for back-to-school.