“For decades, PAL Centers have provided young people including myself, a former 12-year-old PAL participant, with the invaluable opportunity to learn how City Hall works from caring adults,” said Mayor Kenney. “I would like to thank the dedicated PAL Center supervisors, staff, board members and Toyota for supporting the city’s most important asset: young people. Together, we can continue investing in developing positive mentoring models to engage, empower and educate our city’s youth.”
To begin the day, Mayor Kenney cordially greeted and addressed the students representing 19 of the PAL facilities citywide. He commended the PAL kids — all high school students — on their good deeds and accomplishments. He reflected fondly on the positive influence of PAL on his early life and about his days as a 12 year old participating in organized youth activities at PAL programs. The Mayor declared it PAL Day at City Hall in an official proclamation. Mayor Kenney posed for photos with the students and their assigned public officials — along with representatives of PAL and the event sponsor. The adult mentors were from the City of Philadelphia, City Council and judicial system.
The Mayor and the government mentors took part in a speed-mentoring activity in which the PAL youths networked in a round-robin format with various officials, quizzing them briefly on the scope of their positions. Students also were featured in a special keepsake booklet. They were given PAL ID cards reminiscent of PAL days gone by. This career day’s theme was Drive to Succeed.
Said City Representative Sheila Hess, a PAL Board member: “PAL Day at City Hall reflects Mayor Kenney’s appreciation of what PAL centers do to support the youth of our communities every day and his desire to connect PAL students with their City’s government directly. This career day
introduces students to the inner workings of government by effectively engaging them through the career-building exercise of speed mentoring, and other fun, informative activities.”
Mayor Kenney, PAL’s Honorary President, acknowledged their outstanding academic and community achievements. Many of the PAL participants are accomplished student leaders, athletes, academic achievers, community volunteers, role models, peer counselors and tutors.
Additional kick-off program participants included Police Commissioner Richard Ross; Sheila Woods-Skipper, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas; PAL Executive Director Ted Qualli; Tom Mellon, Director of Programming at Team Toyota Langhorne and a representative of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association, new PAL
DAY presenting sponsor, and supervising PAL Center Police officers from most of the PAL Centers.
Said PAL’s Executive Director Qualli: “We see this as a chance to engage the next generation of City leaders. By providing our youth with the opportunity to participate in the process of running the government for a day, the Mayor, Police Commissioner and other City officials are helping expose our children to a myriad of career path and possibilities. The conversations that take place between the kids and city officials are meaningful, and leave both parties better informed about how best to continue to improve our City.”
The PAL Center youths participated in an oath of office, recognizing and appointing them “Honorary Public Officials” for PAL Day. Sheila Woods-Skipper, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas administered the oath as part of the PAL Day at City Hall official swearing-in ceremony with the students positioned in front of the room. The PAL participants also posed for a group photo holding their individual PAL Center identification cards. Government officials encouraged the PAL participants to get involved in the professional world through internships such as those offered by the Mayor’s Office of Education and other career-assistance programs and opportunities. They emphasized the profound and positive impact that PAL has made through the mentoring of youths by Philadelphia Police Officers and volunteers.
Jordan Newsome-Little, of the Wynnefield PAL Center in West Philadelphia, was teamed up with the Mayor. As an honorary Mayor for the day, she represented the student PAL population and presented remarks encouraging the City and other organizations to continue its mentoring programs. Newsome-Little, a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School, has been a PAL member for a decade. She is interested in Obstetrics and Gynecology and plans to attend medical school.
For 2018 PAL Day at City Hall, Newsome-Little and her colleagues represented PAL centers from across the city including sites in North, Northeast, South, Southwest, West Philadelphia, Germantown and Tacony. For some of the students, participating in PAL Day served as their foray into the organized work environment. They took part in the 48th
PAL Day at City Hall.
In addition to the Mayor, City Representative, officials represented were the: Streets Commissioner; Fire Commissioner; Police Commissioner; Commerce Department; Women’s Commission; Managing Director’s Office; City Controller; Department of Human Services; Mayor’s Office, Law Department; Parks & Recreation; Office of the Inspector General; Office of Immigrant Affairs; Finance Department, City Treasure’s Office; Chief Service Office, Philly 311; various City Council offices and Common Pleas Court..
Following the kick-off, the students and public officials enjoyed a networking lunch Afterwards, the aspiring City officials will visit various workplaces to learn about the daily operations of local government. The PAL participants spent part of the afternoon experiencing the inner workings of government, with the guidance of more than 30 designated officials including those from City departments/offices, the judicial system and City Council.
Participants were encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the official event hashtag #ToyotaPALDayatCityHall.