Philly leaders show PAL students the ropes

Philadelphia Distict Attorney-for-a-day Andre Jackson (right) stands with his mentor, Seth Williams (left), and Mayor Nutter during ceremonies in City Hall to begin the 40th annual Lockheed Martin PAL Day. Story, B2.
Philadelphia Distict Attorney-for-a-day Andre Jackson (right) stands with his mentor, Seth Williams (left), and Mayor Nutter during ceremonies in City Hall to begin the 40th annual Lockheed Martin PAL Day. Story, B2. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 13, 2013

Andre Jackson, a 17-year-old from North Philadelphia, hopes someday to practice law and cut down on crime in the city.

On Tuesday, his mentor for this career goal was Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who spent the day showing Jackson how the city's legal system works.

The pairing of the senior at New Media Technology Charter School and Williams was part of the 40th annual Lockheed Martin PAL Day, where 25 city students spent the day with government officials. The teens were nominated and selected by their Police Athletic League leaders; the youths themselves mentor younger children in PAL programs.

Jackson and Williams discussed the importance of staying in school and how dropping out could be the game-changing factor that turns many teenagers to a life of crime.

Williams, a graduate of Georgetown Law School, stressed the value of an education. And he explained that while growing up, playing basketball on a team was an invaluable experience.

"Kids need positive role models," Williams said. "They want to be a member of a team. Either they are going to join a team of positive people like PAL, or they won't."

Jackson said that as a chief youth ambassador for Philadelphia Youth Network, he had become an advocate for youth employment, to keep students busy so they do not end up involved with drugs and crime.

"Teenagers can't get the little jobs anymore with the way the economy is," he said. "The system is messed up. But you can't let people make mistakes."

He said his time with Williams was invaluable.

"I want to implement a no-tolerance policy with crime," he said of his plans.

Mayor Nutter, who also participated in the program, stressed how important PAL is to the development of students and their success.

Many of the 25 teens shared the same career goal: They want to be mayor of Philadelphia.

Rasheeda Brumskill, 17, of North Philadelphia, a senior at Philadelphia Military Academy, was paired with Nutter for the day.

Brumskill, a student-athlete who has participated in PAL programs for 15 years, said meeting the mayor was "overwhelming."

Her experiences with PAL have taught her to focus on improving herself, she said. "I am happy with the person I am becoming because of PAL."


Contact Hillary Siegel at 215-854-2771 or hsiegel@phillynews.com

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