The YMCA of Central Ohio's Positive Alternative Learning for Students program serves as a structured and supervised environment for 6th to 12th grade students as an alternative to being suspended from school.
What is PALS?
(Positive Alternative Learning for Students)
Students who are on three, five, and ten day suspensions are referred to PALS by local public school systems. Students in the program are held accountable for their actions by participating in educational programming and group discussions.
The students are placed in a classroom with a college educated instructor, case manager, and staff assistant. Social services and referrals to outside agencies are also available through our in-house guidance counselor.
The purpose of the PALS program is to provide youth with a positive change in attitude and a better outlook on the future. Program staff challenge youth to take responsibility for their actions and to help them set goals for their future. This is done through social and emotional learning elements, group discussions, and positive interaction with adults.
Victims of Crime (Trauma Informed)
Over the past two years the Juvenile Justice Program (JJP) has been operating a program sponsored by the Attorney General’s office under the Victims of Crime Act. The JJP has labeled this program VOICES. The program is implemented concomitantly with the PALS program and designed to help, as well as offer resources to youth who may have experienced a crime and potentially dealing with consequential trauma. PALS staff is informed of these experiences through their intake interviews with students in the program. If a student indicates they have been a victim of a crime the JJP will schedule a time for VOICES staff to meet with them one on one or in a group setting.
These discussions and group activities are intended to give support, education regarding victim rights, coping skills, social security, and the reconstruction of life normalcy for the youth involved. Staff will take precaution to avoid re-traumatization and therefore never discuss the victim’s actual experience in some cases. If it is discovered that a youth is severely impacted and is in need of immediate psychological or emotional help JJP staff will immediately get them in contact with a licensed counselor who will take an assessment and link them with any necessary resources.
Our community benefits from the YMCA PALS program. Youth are kept off the streets during a suspension period and they are provided the opportunity to continue their academics in a supportive environment. Students interact with trained staff who help them improve their attitude and behavior.
Youth who participate in this program learn how to rebuild their lives and become active citizens in the community. Through:
- Goal directed behavior
- Social awareness
- Relationships skills
- Optimistic thinking
- and personal responsibility
The YMCA PALS program motivates youth to become responsible young adults.