SALT LAKE CITY (May 20, 2015) — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes reminisced about the importance of youth athletics, specifically boxing, to a large crowd attending the 71st Annual National Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL) Training Conference in Salt Lake City. The conference is being hosted by the South Salt Lake (SSL) PAL at Salt Lake City’s Little America May 17-22, 2015.
Reyes also shared memories of his recently passed mother, Annette Reyes, a former Los Angeles area high school principal who chose to work with at-risk kids in an alternative high school where she felt like impacting even one life was worth the difficulty of working among gangs, drugs and guns. Reyes likened the work of volunteer PAL directors (peace officers and civilian alike) to the public service his mother rendered, encouraging attendees to keep loving, protecting, providing stability, structure and a vision of the future to the youth they mentor in neighborhoods around the nation.
“When I was young, sports such as boxing had a big influence on my life. Boxing not only trained me physically but also gave me confidence. It taught me discipline, hard work, overcoming failure and pushing myself to do hard things. My dad loved boxing and trained me before I joined a club. It was programs like PAL that helped give me a strong foundation for the future.”
PAL is a national organization that works to prevent juvenile crime by building relationships between police and youth through recreational activities. The National PAL Training Conference began Sunday, May 17 and concludes Thursday, May 21. The conference provides classes for PAL chapters to learn skills to work with children and young adults and to discuss a number of topics, including bullying, crime prevention, youth relations and social media.
“As Utah’s Attorney General, I have deep gratitude for South Salt Lake PAL and the many other dedicated members of local and national PAL chapters for offering such positive outlets for our youth, particularly those in communities where there may be fewer positive role models available,” said AG Reyes. “PAL is an example of the many ways law enforcement contributes to the communities they protect. It is also a tremendous model of how law enforcement can interact in a peaceful, positive and meaningful way while teaching at risk youth there are ways to succeed within the limits of the law.”
The crowd of PAL directors, administrators and board members were inspired by AG Reyes to continue their PAL efforts, “It is obvious that programs like PAL made a difference in the Attorney General’s life. He’s real. He’s genuine and inspired me to work harder,” said one attendee while another stated “it meant a lot that he would recognize our hard work. He is sensitive to issues affecting minority communities but also stands up for law enforcement.”
The South Salt Lake PAL, host chapter for this year’s conference, offers mentoring and tutoring, and fosters relationships between officers and participating youth through physical fitness courses, sports, art workshops, and community service. Members of the SSL Police Department, Fire Department, Recreation Department, and Chamber of Commerce all contribute to the local chapter. To learn more about the South Salt Lake PAL and their youth programs, visit sslpal.org.
For more information on the Utah Attorney General’s Office, visit attorneygeneral.utah.gov.
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