JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Now that school is out for Duval County students, the Police Athletic League, also known as JaxPAL, is helping kids stay busy and away from crime during the summer.
The event is free and focuses on building bridges between law enforcement and Jacksonville's youth.
“It’s a group of people trying to help out and getting kids off the street and making sure they do the right thing and succeed in life,” said 15-year-old Adriel Bacher, a participant.
Bacher grew up on the Southside and watched violence negatively impact some his friends. He said he stayed focused on his dream of playing basketball for the NBA and joined JaxPAL two years ago.
At Friday’s event, he met with coach Kim Varner and did two timed runs around the boxing ring.
Varner, who is a retired Jacksonville police officer, listed the goals of JaxPAL.
“First of all, to have a place for them to come," Varner said. "Mostly to be a positive role model and show them the right way to do things.”
This year, JaxPAL also partnered with Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub to teach the kids how to operate computers, robotic miniatures and drones.