PHILADELPHIA, (Wednesday, February 26, 2020) – Forty youngsters spent some quality time today with government officials and experienced life in the government workplace at the 50th PAL Day at City Hall, an empowering career-development program, which began with a morning orientation ceremony. PAL Day at City Hall was presented by Philadelphia Area Toyota Dealers
The PAL youngsters joined Mayor Jim Kenney, City Representative Sheila Hess, current PAL representatives, PAL alumni and public officials in the kickoff in the Mayor’s Reception Room to launch a day of career exploration and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of PAL Day. February 26th officially is “PAL Day at City Hall,” which was declared in a mayoral proclamation.
Mayor Kenney, who participated in PAL programs as a youth, said that the City is proud to host mentoring programs that are a potential steppingstone for government careers.
“PAL Day at City Hall presents a great opportunity for our young people to begin the important learning process of exploring a career path,” Mayor Kenney said. “When I was a kid, I loved being part of the programs offered at my local PAL center. In addition to being an enriching experience, PAL also helped shape my future goals personally and professionally. For half a century, this iconic organization has been changing young lives for the better. Congratulations to PAL, as it begins the next 50 years of serving our young people.”
Mayor Kenney greeted and addressed the students representing the Philadelphia’s Police Athletic League’s 20 facilities citywide. He commended the PAL kids – mostly high school juniors and seniors — on their good deeds and accomplishments in academics and extra-curricular activities at school and in the community. Mayor Kenney reflected fondly about the influence of PAL on his early life and about his days as a 12-year-old enjoying PAL’s organized youth activities in PAL programs in the 1970s when young participants regularity carried membership cards. The Mayor 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, City Council and judicial system. Prior to the event, some PAL students corresponded with Mayor Kenney about living in Philadelphia through social media.
Even if the young mentees do not pursue a career in public service, many expressed a keen interest in going from the Mayor’s Reception Room to the board room in the private sector instead someday.
PAL Day is designed to highlight PAL’s impact PAL through the mentoring of youths by Philadelphia Police Officers and volunteers. Some of the program’s alumni, who still hold on to their old PAL membership cards including the Mayor, returned for the milestone event to boast about the influence of PAL Day.
In an event focal point, PAL Center youths participated in an oath of office, anointing them as “Honorary Public Officials” for PAL Day. Sheila A. 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.
For the fourth year, the students took part in a speed-mentoring activity mingling and networking with the public officials whom they quizzed briefly on the scope of their positions. The session included rotating to various tables to exchange words of wisdom and business cards. Government officials advised 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. The day of mentoring’s theme was Make a Day of it. Make it a Career.
Said City Representative Sheila Hess, the program’s emcee and a PAL board member: “An organized career day goes a long way to making a strong impression on a young mind. A public life in government is an exciting, engaging and a rewarding experience. For 50 years now, PAL Day has been an effective career catalyst to inspire and connect PAL kids with accomplished adult role models. Many PAL kids have gone onto a meaningful career in public service. Those PAL Day student alumni who attend our kickoff are living proof of the sustained success of this mentoring approach.”
Mayor Kenney, PAL’s Honorary President, acknowledged the students’ outstanding academic and community achievements. Many of the young PAL participants are thriving student leaders, athletes, academic achievers, community volunteers, peer counselors and tutors.
Additional kick-off program participants included: Ted Qualli, PAL Executive Director; Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw; Capt. Krista Dahl-Campbell, new PAL Commanding Officer; Tom Mellon, Representative of Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association & Director of Programming at
Team Toyota Langhorne; PAL Board members, and supervising Police officers/staff from the city’s PAL Centers.
“Celebrating our 50th year running PAL Day at City Hall, we are proud to continue a tradition that inspires the children we serve,” PAL’s Qualli said. “Over a thousand PAL kids have experienced a day in the life our dedicated city officials; adults who are committed to improving Philadelphia for
everyone, especially our children. We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Kenney, City Representative Sheila Hess, and all the City officials for making this event a legacy, and for the support of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association, whose sponsorship helped make today possible.”
Andrew Walker, of the Wynnefield PAL Center in West Philadelphia, teamed up with Mayor Kenney. As Honorary Mayor, Walker represented the PAL student population and presented remarks encouraging the City and other organizations to continue its mentoring programs. He is a junior at Mastery Charter –Thomas Campus in South Philadelphia. He participates in volunteer community-service activities such as Molding Gentlemen of Distinction, a program that develops young minds socially and academically.
Walker competes in track and field as well as enjoys teaching martial arts in the community. He plans to attend Howard University to study both business management and mechanical engineering. Walker is among the best students from PAL centers from across the city including sites in North, Northeast, South, Southwest, West Philadelphia, Germantown and Tacony. For some of the youngsters, participating in PAL Day was their formal introduction to the work environment.
“PAL has incredibly impacted my life,” Walker told an audience of 300. “It has helped me to be accountable for all my actions, from accountability to strategical thinking. It kept me in school, and it kept me having a great place to go to after school.”
In addition to the Mayor and City Representative, officials represented were from a wide range of government functions in the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Managing Director’s Office, Philly 311, Department of Planning & Development, Office of the Chief Administrator, Public Health Department, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Office of Children and Families; Office of the Director of Finance, Office of the Controller, Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, Office of Immigrant Affairs; Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, Office of Veteran Affairs, Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy; Office of the Chief Administrative Officer; Office of Education, Police Department, Fire Department, Streets Department; Commerce Department; Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteers; Law Department, District Attorney’s Office and Court of Common Pleas.
City Councilman Derek Green presented an anniversary proclamation from City Council to celebrate the milestone.
Following the kick-off, the students and public officials engaged in a “working” networking lunch. Afterwards, the honorary young public officials visited various workplaces to learn about the daily operations of local government. The PAL participants spent part of the afternoon experiencing the inner workings of civil service, with the guidance of the officials from City departments/offices/programs, the judicial system and City Council.
A video featuring PAL Day alumni to highlight the staying power of PAL Day over a half century is available now on YouTube: https://youtu.be/U8GO-2pHM_M
Participants were encouraged to share their experiences on social media using the official event hashtag #ToyotaPALDayatCityHall.
Since 1947 – through the Philadelphia Police Department – generations of young people, from 6 to 18 years old, have benefitted from the Police Athletic League of Philadelphia youth-empowerment programs. Philadelphia-area Toyota dealers partnered with PAL Day to become a presenting sponsor this year. With a mission of “Cops Helping Kids,” PAL centers are creative and constructive places to expand students’ knowledge through academic and social activities. Check; With 20 centers across Philadelphia serving more than 17,000 kids, PAL offers a variety of sports, education and recreational programs free to local youths. PAL is a vital part of the various services that the City provides to young people in neighborhoods. For more information on PAL programs, visit www.phillypal.com.
The Office of the City Representative organizes special and ceremonial events for the City of Philadelphia and serves as its marketing, promotion, production, tourism/hospitality, public relations and branding arm. The department partners with PAL every year to produce PAL Day at City Hall Presented by Philadelphia Area Toyota Dealers. Be sure to connect with us on social media (@PhillyCityRep) and follow the official event hashtag (#ToyotaPALDayatCityHall) to stay up to date with the latest information on this event.