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Come for dinner, stay for the conversation

November 28, 2016

PAL Coalition  event gives teens the chance to talk about the issues they face daily

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 29, the PAL Coalition, will host a Community Table/Youth Forum, a dinner and conversation by young people about their communities, schools, and the challenges they face, including substance abuse, stress, crime, bullying, cultural integration and other issues.
“Come for dinner and stay for an opportunity to chat with PAL Youth Advocates,” said Tomy Molloy, director of PAL, – a community based collaborative of professionals from business, faith, education, healthcare, social services and others – working together to reduce the incidence of substance abuse by young people residing in the 7th Street Corridor of Central Louisville.

PAL is an initiative of Family & Children’s Place, 0de4d2da199de8a918daf8f65a2cc50e_400x400and the dinner and forum begin at 5:30 p.m., at Lynnhurst United Church of Christ, in Southwest Louisville at 4401 Taylor Blvd., Louisville, Ky., 40215.

The event is the group’s second, and at the spring forum, young people from surrounding neighborhoods talked about having no safe place to go after school, leaving them to hang out on the streets. It wasn’t a complaint; it was a plea for help.

Studies show between 3 and 6 p.m. to be the most dangerous time for teenagers. Parents are at work and teens often have no structured place to go after school, so these times are when young people are most likely to be a victim or perpetrator of a crime, experiment with drugs or engage in risky behavior.

The PAL Coalition heard the teens’ pleas, and with community help and support responded, opening the PAL Center in September at Lynnhurst United Church of Christ. Since opening, the center has averaged between 10 and 30 students daily, and provides homework help, advocacy training led by Kentucky state Rep. Joni Jenkins and PAL board members and open gym time for basketball and other sports.

COPES – the Council on Prevention and Education: Substances – also provides an evidenced based curriculum to the teens that helps builds family skills and knowledge about things such as alcohol and drugs, communicating, self-awareness, bullying and other peer-related issues.

Half of the teens that utilize the center and its services weekly – it’s open from 2:30-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, are English as a Second Language (ESL) students, some of them refugees from countries such as Syria, Rwanda, the Congo and elsewhere.  All of the participating teens have needs, but refugee teens present unique needs the center is committed to meeting.

The forum is a chance to learn about and from Louisville’s youth, to hear in their own words their thoughts, feelings and concerns about issues they face every day – in life, school and home.

Save the time and date – 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29, and join the conversation to create a better community for the teens, for us all.