Tag Archives: PAL

Far Rockaway basketball tournament aims to stop violence


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Far Rockaway is fighting its reputation of violence through a program that brings youth together and puts them under one roof.

The Stack Bundles basketball tournament kicked of its second year earlier this month and will continue through the summer. Twelve teams of 10 players each are traveling the peninsula and breaking territorial barriers. All the athletes are age 18 and over.

“We want to spread the word so these kids get it. Right now, they don’t get it,” said tournament founder Manny Fiallo, who is also outreach coordinator for the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Far Rockaway and a parent coordinator at the Department of Education (DOE).

Fiallo said that in Far Rockaway, people get very protective of their respective areas.

“If you’re from Edgemere, why can’t you go to Redfern?” he said. “We want to bring everybody together.”

Last year, Fiallo got the idea of creating something to “represent the neighborhood, something everyone could look forward to,” according to Fiallo’s partner Lakia Echols.

Stack Bundles was a rapper who lived in Redfern and died from gun violence. Fiallo said the Bundles name is well respected around the peninsula, so he called on it for a stop-the-violence effort and created the tournament.

“It’s great competition,” said returning player David Bostick. “It gives us a reason to do something good for the neighborhood.”

“Plus, it’s bragging rights,” he added.

When the second week for the tournament began, over 100 people from the neighborhood came to watch. Community members from toddlers to seniors were in the audience cheering on the players.

“A lot of kids came out and watched us play,” Bostick said. “After school, kids don’t necessarily have something to do. This gets them off the street.”
Bostick added that it is beneficial for younger kids to see older guys from different areas getting along.

At the tournament, youths affected by violence spoke to the audience and opened up about their experiences. People who lost their parents shared their stories and received support from people all over the peninsula.

Echols said once he and Fiallo have participants at the tournament, they can get their attention and show them the PAL program has job and parent training, too.

Deshawna Thompson-Banrey is a coach at this year’s tournament. She works with Fiallo and said Stack Bundles simply gives people something to do and gets them off the street.

“Right now, they’re doing something productive. This is a safe place,” she said.

The games will continue every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the summer.

 

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Cuts to after-school programs, day care still loom


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy PAL

Thousands of Queens parents will be without a “plan b” if child care is not bankrolled in the city’s final budget, advocates said.
Funding for child care was not restored in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s executive budget after a $70 million cut in his preliminary spending plan, pushing dozens of Queens programs to the brink.

“This is how [parents] get to work, this is how they have somewhere safe to leave their kids,” said Gregory Brender, policy advisor for United Neighborhood Houses. “They don’t have a plan b.”

More than 30 Out-of-School-Time (OST) programs throughout the borough may have to close their doors, affecting thousands of children, according to advocates. With the cuts will also come job losses.

“For children, we see again and again the benefits after-school education has on their development,” Brender said. “Now, the city is saying only some kids are deserving of these services.”

More than 5,000 OST slots in Queens would be eliminated if the budget passes in June, according to the Department of Youth and Child Development (DYCD).

“The city will continue to provide high-quality, comprehensive services to our students through the Out-of-School-Time program, and we are working within our financial reality to do so,” said a DYCD spokesperson, who added the remaining programs will be focused in high need areas.
Bloomberg agreed that after-school programs are vital, but said some cuts are necessary.

“I happen to agree with the protestors that [after-school programs are] very important,” the mayor said recently. “Every year we go through the same thing. There are proposals and there is input and there is discussion and argument and we come up with a pretty good budget.”
Police Athletic League (PAL) and Beacon programs also face cutbacks.

PAL is looking for ways to avoid closing any centers, but two centers in Queens will be forced to re-evaluate services.

The Edward Byrne Center in Jamaica and P.S. 214 in Flushing — which each serve more than 100 children — would focus on recreation, sports and arts based programs rather than traditional after school and educational components, PAL Executive Director Alana Sweeney said.

Margaret Bena, whose 6-year-old daughter attends PAL P.S. 214 while she works and attends school, complained that there already aren’t many programs that offer the numerous benefits PAL does, and for free.

“It’s hard to have play dates in the neighborhood,” Bena said, “But in the PAL program, she has so many friends now and her social integration has [grown by] leaps and bounds.”

Two Beacons are set to be shut down, Queens Community House at J.H.S. 190 and Samuel Field Y at M.S. 158.
— Additional reporting by
Liam La Guerre & Tonia N. Cimino