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Friday, February 8, 2008

GAL PALS Mentorship Program a Success

Connie Castanera
Some excerpts taken from GAL PALS Manual "Introduction to GAL PALS"

As a Frederick PAL board member and lead facilitator for the GAL PALS Program, I am proud to say that we are half-way through the program and can already claim with certainty that it is a huge success. The GAL PALS Mentorship Program began the first week of October 2007 and will it run through June of 2008. We have a core group of 10 to 12 committed girls that look forward to the weekly sessions at Hillcrest Elementary School in Frederick, MD.

Each session is led by a facilitator, co-facilitator, a female police officer, and an assistant who also serves as an interpreter for those who are not yet as proficient in English as they would like to be.

The 30 mentoring sessions are conducted Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:00 PM throughout the course of the school year. To best accommodate holidays and other regularly scheduled academic events, GAL PALS has been divided into three distinct 10-week modules – categorized as "YOU!," "YOU PLUS OTHERS!," and "YOU PLUS OTHERS PLUS COMMUNITY!"

Since it would be nearly impossible, due to busy schedules, to ask female leaders in Frederick County to commit to attending every session, we have chosen to ask 30 to serve as mentors by committing to leading one session each. This arrangement has worked out perfectly for both the mentors and the GAL PALS.

Upon graduation, the GAL PALS will have experienced a multi-faceted approach to cultural, artistic, musical, dance and dramatic expression which hones in on:

· the development of coping skills

· handling new situations and transitions in life

· managing anger, fear and frustration

· expressing emotions in productive ways

· sharing life's challenges and triumphs

· encouraging teamwork and social cohesion

· making good choices

· taking responsibility for physical, emotional and spiritual well being

· interacting and communicating successfully in a multi-cultural setting

· the joy of helping others

· the ability to get along with people from diverse backgrounds

· resisting discrimination and intolerance

· defending the rights of others

· the benefits of belonging to a caring community

· becoming connected to others in Frederick's neighborhoods

· the value of community service

· what it takes to be a leader

Combined with advice from the guest mentor role models, fun exercises, individual journaling, and affirmations of success, the GAL PAL series - adapted to the learning patterns of 10-15 year olds – was designed to awaken students to the "can do" power of being unique and exceptional human beings as well as start them on their way to conscious adulthood.

The GAL PALS program was developed on a volunteer basis by Latinos Unidos de Frederick y Sus Alrededores (United Latinos of Greater Frederick - LUF) and Nuestra Casa del Pueblo (Our House of the People - NCP) for the City of Frederick Police Department (FPD) and the City of Frederick Police Activities League (PAL) to instill the qualities of courage, confidence and character in young girls.

Recently, an anonymous donation was made to the GAL PALS Program which will allow for the addition of another component called Fun Fridays! The first Friday of every month, until June, the girls will be treated to pizza, jewelry making, pottery painting, horseback riding, and "Dance, Dance Revolution" (

As Police Chief Kim Dine says,
"We believe that the basic premise of prevention programs is two-fold; they are designed to reduce youth victimization and reduce juvenile crime. We also believe that effective and enlightened policing is comprised of multi-faceted efforts that include enforcement/community policing, education, prevention and outreach. We know it is often argued that prevention is difficult to measure, but we know one thing - when these young folks are participating in these kinds of programs, they are off the street and in a safe and productive environment, and they are not being victimized nor are they committing crimes. Programs like this literally can change the lives of young people."

We hope that you will be inspired to make a donation to the Frederick Police Activities League. The future of our young people is riding on programs such as GAL PALS and the many other programs offered by the Frederick PAL. To find out more about Frederick PAL, Michele Bowman (Outreach Coordinator) can be reached at or at (301) 600-2091.

We anticipate that one of our most significant achievements will be witnessing the accomplishments of our GAL PALS!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful program for out risk girls. Kudos to all those involve.