I.S. 229 opens new PAL Teen Impact Center

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson helps open the new PAL Teen Impact Center at I.S. 229. Photo by Vito Signorile

A Morris Heights public school is getting the support it needs to keep its students safe.

Over the summer, I.S. 229 Rolan Patterson School at 275 Harlem River Park Bridge opened the first ever Police Athletic League Summer Street after the city Special Narcotics Prosecutor and Bronx District Attorney’s Officer were able to use approximately $175,000 obtained through two major local drug busts to fund the program.

The PAL Summer Play Street, which provided recreational, cultural, educational and social activities for children in the community, became at huge success at the school. To further provide a safe environment for local kids, the PAL decided to open a Teen Impact Center at the school that will last until the end of the school year.

On Friday, December 9, members of PAL, SNP Bridget Brennan, and District Attorney Robert Johnson, officially opened the I.S. 229 Teen Impact Center, which will allow young teenagers ages 12 to 16 gather for sports activities, dance and cultural events with local law enforcement.

“We firmly believe that time invested in providing opportunities for young people also helps prevent crime and thereby provides much more to the community than simply prosecuting offenders after their harm is done,” Johnson said. “We have a wonderful partnership here between all involved and this community. We’re not going away because we know there are young people here who want to strive in their lives.”

The PAL Summer Play Street was only a six week program, but in that time, approximately 139 local children participated in staying safe and keeping busy during their summer vacation.

At the close of the program, it was immediately decided by all partners involved that they would continue to help the young boys and girls of not only I.S. 229, but the entire Morris Heights community with another activity center.

“PAL programs and this community are a great fit. Over the past year, young people participated at I.S. 229 and made those programs a success,” Brennan said. “We’re happy to join the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in ensuring these young people continue to have a safe place to have fun with their friends in 2012.”

The Teen Impact Center will also provide a prevention education component designed to reduce children’s risk-taking behaviors, such as gang activity, and foster life skills. The program will operate every week, Monday through Wednesday, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., until May 28, 2012.

“We are fully aware that youth and their families face multiple stressors and challenges each day,” said I.S. 229 principal Dr. Ezra Matthias. “We are partnering to foster the belief in our youth that they can achieve and become everything that they envision.”

Reach Vito Signorile via e-mail at vsignorile@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383.

More from Around NYC