NEW YORK – Today, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Senator Daniel Squadron, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, the Police Athletic League (PAL), the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), and community leaders announced the opening of a new, intensive education and engagement program, which includes basketball, recreation, and counseling at the Campos Plaza public housing development on the Lower East Side. Starting December 9th the new program will be offered free of charge on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, to provide a safe and positive environment and encourage productive activities for local residents between the ages of 14 and 19.
In response to a string of high-profile crimes involving teenagers and young adults, including the October 16th murder of Keith Salgado in the Campos Plaza courtyard, local elected officials have been meeting with the PAL, NYCHA, the LES Youth Development Initiative, Campos Plaza’s Youth Council and the Campos Plaza Tenants Association, and other community leaders to address youth violence in the area.
Assemblymember Kavanagh, who represents Campos Plaza, said, “Crime prevention requires a cooperative, continuous, and citywide effort involving not only effective policing, but also alternative opportunities and constructive activities for young people. Together, we are bringing an exceptional basketball training program to our community that will provide just such an opportunity. We cannot undo the tragedies that have occurred here, but this community is committed to doing everything we can to stop the violence and move forward. I am proud to stand today with the PAL, the Housing Authority, my colleagues in government, and so many community leaders young and old who are showing the way, and especially Mrs. Salgado whose resolve in the face of an unthinkable tragedy in her own family is profoundly inspiring.”
“By providing constructive activities and a safe space, the new PAL Teen Impact Center is a critical step toward protecting our kids and our community,” said Senator Daniel Squadron. “May this program honor the memory of Keith Salgado and help prevent senseless tragedies like the one that took his life. Thank you to Assemblymember Kavanagh, Council Member Mendez, PAL, NYCHA, the Campos Center Youth Council, and all of the community members who worked with us to make this a reality.”
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said, “Through this Teen Impact Center, countless lives will be touched, and countless young people will have a meaningful, alternative experience to support and engage them. I want to thank our partners who have not only joined us to make this Center a reality, but have also worked tirelessly to support our overall effort to improve the quality of life for Lower East Side residents.”
Alana Sweeny, PAL Executive Director said, “This Impact Center provides a deterrent to youth crime by providing young people with engaging activities in safe environment during the evening hours. Led by trained professionals, the youth will be exposed to workshops designed to help them make positive decisions in their daily lives. If a teen is off the street, having fun, and learning in the presence of positive role models, they are not outside getting into trouble. PAL operates 15 Impact Centers in high crime areas of the five Boroughs of NYC.”
Jeffry Solomon, who launched LES Youth Development Initiative, said, “I first met seven year old Donavan Salgado at the Boys' Club of New York. It gladdens my heart to see the community coming together in this way. Keith went to school every day this year. Let’s encourage all our kids to do the same. His friends have promised to play basketball in his honor as ‘Team Keith.’ Let’s support them and move forward together. Together we will stop the violence.”
Aida Salgado, the mother of Keith Salgado, said, “We can never forget and we can never condone the senseless violence that took Keith away from us and that continues to tear our city apart. Our children need recreation, education and economic opportunity. I thank Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Senator Daniel Squadron, Council Member Rosie Mendez, and the PAL for recognizing this. We call on our young people from Smith to Campos and all points between to join together to stop the violence.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said, “I applaud Assemblymember Kavanagh, Council Member Mendez, Senator Squadron, and the Police Athletic League for bringing this critical resource to Campos Plaza. To keep our neighborhoods safe, we can’t just fight crime – we have to build communities. The hard work of empowering our city’s young people begins building by building and block by block, from our basketball courts to our schools. I look forward to working with community stakeholders to preserve the Lower East Side as a safe, diverse, mixed-income community.”
President of the Campos Plaza Tenants Association DeReese Huff said, “Our kids have seen it all including, many despicable acts of violence. It is time for a change. I am so grateful for this new program opening up at the very same place, at the very front line of our community.”
The PAL program will offer opportunities for youth to engage in sports and recreation, prevention education, life skills rap sessions and one-on-one positive peer and adult relationships. It will provide a safe environment with services and developmental activities that will offer youth the opportunity to positively socialize, participate and experience fun life altering experiences.
An open house for parents and teens who wish to learn more about the program will be held on Friday, December 9th at 5pm at the Campos Plaza Community Center at 611 East 13th Street (between Avenues B and C).
Founded in 1914, PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to over 56,000 boys and girls annually. It is the city’s largest, independent, nonprofit youth organization.
Kavanagh, Mendez, Squadron and Velazquez represent the residents of Campos Plaza and many other public housing developments on the Lower East Side. Mendez also chairs the Council Committee on Public Housing.