By Elaine Omann
This year the University of North Florida rolled out a program called “Osprey PALS,” which has been designed to enrich and extend learning for students in the Police Athletic League in the Northwest area of Jacksonville. The Police Athletic League, or PAL, is committed to enriching the lives of children by creating positive relationships between law enforcement and the youth of the community.
University of North Florida President John Delaney brought the idea for the program to Edythe M. Abdullah in UNF Professional Development, and with further collaboration between Valerie Murphy in UNF Continuing Education, PAL, and Continental Societies (an international public service organization dedicated to the socioeconomic and cultural welfare of underprivileged children and youth), this innovative and exciting program began for PAL-Northwest.
The program has become an extended community service opportunity for the local Continental Societies group, during which members meet with PAL students on the first Monday of each month along with instructors from UNF Continuing Education. The instructors offer a sample of workshop topics based on their talents and expertise to provide options and new outlooks for the students who have committed to the Osprey PALS program. The Continental Societies volunteers are present to assist the instructor and also add a leadership component each week with Stephen Covey-based concepts and exercises.
The first Osprey PALS session was “Yes, You Can Paint,” an arts-based painting activity. Future sessions include self-defense, career topics, heroes of civil rights, nutrition, chemistry, and more interesting enrichment topics to build background for the young adults.
The University of North Florida’s Division of Continuing Education, in collaboration with the Jacksonville Chapter of the Continental Societies is committed to providing nine Monday evening enrichment activities of 30 to 45 minutes for the PAL students throughout the fall, winter and spring. Continental Societies, Inc. members plan to provide further enrichment activities in May and June of 2018.
The first Monday of each month sessions are held at the JaxPal Northside Center starting at 6 p.m. Students are provided with a sack dinner. The students open the evening agenda and present their guest instructors. The students also communicate team information as needed.
The response to the first session was fun and positive. The Osprey PALS program provides a meaningful opportunity for many to build community and share with young adults. This group of volunteers is taking their time and talent out to another community — building relationships and enriching lives along the way.
To learn more about PAL, visit jaxpal.com. Visit www.jacksonvillecontinentals.org to learn more about the local Continental Societies chapter. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Valerie.Murphy@unf.edu for more information about the Osprey PALS program
Photos courtesy Elaine Omann
Osprey PALS’ first session, “Yes, You Can Paint” was a big success