There’s nothing more important to a young kid’s health than to get outside and play. For Fred Dunwoody, president of the Westbury chapter of the Police Activity League (PAL), providing affordable programs to keep kids playing is a great way to promote that.
“[The PAL] provides low-cost, after-school activities for kids from kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade,” said Dunwoody. “That includes a unit for kids with special needs. We have a wide variety of programs that keep kids active, involved, and engaged as opposed to sitting on a couch or doing crazy stuff in the neighborhood.”
The nonprofit organization, which is sponsored by the Nassau County Police Department, has programs right now that include basketball, baseball and soccer among others. There are even some nonsports programs such as theater for drama lovers and their STEM class for those intersted in practicing the subjects they learn in school, such as math and science. The classes provided by the league are open to those of all skillsets.
“The mantra to the PAL is that everyone plays,” said Dunwoody. “There is no restriction in regards to whether you have talent or if you are the all-star. You come, you get in and you play. Our programs, with the exception of our advanced league play, is open to everybody in the communtiy regardless of whether they ever, say, touched a basketball or baseball.”
Dunwoody, who works on automatic identification and data captures in his full-time job, has been part of the PAL for more than 18 years and has had a higher-level position within the organization for most of his tenure. However, the whole reason he even got involved with the program was because of his child.
“My daughter is who brought me to it,” explained Dunwoody. “She was in fourth grade when she first started. I went from being a parent on the sidelines to helping out to becoming a coach, and then kept moving up. She was in fourth grade when we started and now she is 27-years old. Crazy that it’s been that long.”
Since becoming the president, Dunwoody has continued to run these programs that help kids like his daughter have something to do after school. He is even looking into ways to make a program that is already affordable even less expensive for parents out there that can’t afford to enroll their child. What drives him to keep operating and improving the PAL are stories like one story has stayed with him throughout his tenure about how the program impacted their career path.
“I got a letter a couple of years ago from the mom of one girl who was involved in PAL,” said Dunwoody. “She said ‘Listen, I want to thank you so much for allowing my daughter to be part of your program. She went to college, graduated with honors, and is now a physical education and athletics director.’”
This was one of the more extreme examples of how much the PAL can help a child, but that doesn’t mean the impact of PAL isn’t evident in most kids that go through the program.
“There are also the moments where you get a kid that is shy who, after one session, that are engaged and having fun playing with everybody,” said Dunwoody, “I can’t think of any better joy than that.”
For those interested in signing up their child for an activity or to volunteer in helping the kids in the programs, visit the Westbury PAL website at westburycarleplacepal.website.siplay.com.