PAL Stars Attend the 2015 Annual Florida PAL Youth Directors Conference

By Karen Fleming

Ah, the excitement of a premier! On the opening day of the annual Florida Police Athletic League (PAL) Youth Director's Conference, Friday, July 17, 2015, the atmosphere was like Oscar night in Hollywood. With cameras rolling, celebrities crossed a red carpet to enter Disney's Orlando Coronado Springs Resort conference room where a delicious breakfast buffet awaited. In reality, these celebrities were the cleverly disguised PAL kids portraying pop stars: Lil Wayne, Janet Jackson, and Kim Kardasian, to name a few. Even Little Bo Peep was spotted.

Be a Star! It was a Star-Studded kick off! This first day of the conference, everyone got a chance to appear as a celebrity or as someone they admire. Oscars - er-trophies were presented for best costumes.

Each PAL kid is a Very Important Person; they are always V.I.P.s. And our PAL alumni kids continue to be important parts of the PAL family. Many of the alumni come back to the conferences to help, and this year was the same. Each of them was called forward, introduced and welcomed: Liza Creatura (Satellite Beach), Austin Steele (Jacksonville), Jeffie Clarke (Jacksonville), Jarae Parrish (Winter Haven), Zeke Hayes (Lake Wales), Juan Mejia (Coral Gables), and Cassey Cage (Jacksonville).

Everyone got a kick out of the video presentation starring the Youth Conference Committee (YCC) members acting out their temporary celebrity personas. This elite group, the YCC, is made up of twelve youth directors, who meet four times a year to plan this conference and then implement it. Another YCC-created - video, illustrating things NOT to do at the conference, held everyone's attention and got the messages across in amusing ways. Thank you to the 2015 YCC: Talani, Gabyson, Daniella, Dane, Erica, Hamilton, Luca, Isaac, Max (chair), and Kira, (co-chair).

What the Conference Is All About

The annual State of Florida Association of Police Athletic Leagues (SFAPAL, or Florida PAL) Youth Directors Conference is the highlight of the year for many Florida PAL youngsters. It is offered each year to PAL kids who belong to PAL Youth Directors Councils (YDC) offered by their local PAL chapters. The YDC is a youth leadership program for kids ages ten to eighteen. It teaches leadership skills and encourages the members to work within their communities to effect positive change. If the youth do the required community service and meet the other guidelines, such as attending their local and regional YDC meetings, then the conference, the meals, the lodging, and the Disney theme park passes are free for those who are selected.

The three-day conference features dynamic speakers, who offer inspiring life lessons. The kids have unequaled opportunities to form quality friendships with new people and renew valued old friendships with kids from other PAL chapters. After the workshops are finished at the close of the conference day, usually in the early afternoon, there is plenty of time to explore the Magic Kingdom.

The Golden Globe Awards, PAL Style

A new feature at the conference this year, the Golden Globes Awards, recognized excellence demonstrated in Florida PAL chapters. The Best PAL Directors Awards went to Leslie Brimer, director of West Melbourne PAL and to Jose Flores, director of Coral Gables PAL. The Most Dedicated YDC Program Award went to Ormond Beach PAL. The Most Outstanding Officer Award went to Shaun Waller from Lakeland PAL. A High Five Award, for one who gives all, went to Paul Creatura, Satellite Beach PAL. The Outstanding Youth Director of the Year Award went to Max Trapasso, of Brevard County Sheriff's Office PAL; Most Outstanding YCC Alumni of the Year Award, for one who continues to serve, went to Jeffie Clark, from Jacksonville PAL; Most Outstanding Alumni Award-inside and outside of the conference-went to Austin Steele, Jacksonville PAL. A High Five Award from the YCC, for one who worked hard all year, went to Oresha West, from Lakeland PAL. Most Outstanding PAL Volunteer Award went to Joyce Robinson, Florida PAL Kid Trax Administrator; Most Outstanding PAL Alumni Chairman Award went to Nicholas "Nick" Abrahams, and Most Outstanding Alumni Award went to Patrick "Pat" Abrahams, Nick's brother. Mr. L.B. Scott, SFAPAL executive director, announced a High-Five Award to Isaac Quillet from Satellite Beach.

SFAPAL Boy and Girl of the Year

Mr. Scott called Mr. Chris Robinson, SFAPAL grant manager, and Mr. Paul Creatura, Satellite Beach PAL executive director, to come help present the SFAPAL Boy and Girl of the Year Awards. This year the awards go to Max Trapasso, from Brevard County Sheriff's Office, and Kira Creatura, from Satellite Beach! Congratulations to these very deserving young people!
For many years, Mr. Robinson has donated the laptops that SFAPAL traditionally has given to the Boy and Girl of the Year, and this year Mr. Creatura shared in the donation cost. Thank you! In addition to the laptops, their cases and the software, all of which Max and Kira received at the Youth Directors Conference, they will both be presented with a check for $1000.00 from SFAPAL at the year-end membership training in December 2015.

Florida PAL Partners with Tomorrow's Team

Brothers Nicholas and Patrick Abrahams, both former PAL kids and now adults well into their respective careers, announced that their non-profit, Tomorrow's Team, has partnered with Florida PAL "to offer outstanding opportunities for our youth in Florida." Believing that the leaders of tomorrow are created today, Tomorrow's Team presented four PAL teens each a $1000.00 scholarship. The four recipients were called forward: Osteria Williams, from Palatka PAL, attending FAU; Khyla Person, from Jacksonville PAL, attending FSCJ; Max Trapasso, from Brevard County Sheriff's Office PAL, attending UCF; and Jason Shaw, from Palatka PAL, attending SFCC.
PAL high school juniors and seniors, send in your applications for the next round of scholarship awards! Tomorrow's Team is looking for individuals who "stand out from their peers and do the right thing, not necessarily just those who make the best grades."
You can find Tomorrow's Team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Nicholas and Patrick, along with Courtney Abrahams, founded Tomorrow's Team in 2013 because "they were inspired to give back to communities that helped shape their lives." Mr. Scott said he watched these two young men grow up. Patrick was the first YDC member in Satellite Beach PAL seventeen years ago, and Nicholas was a YCC chairman and SFAPAL Boy of the Year. "They are the first ever to come back and make a contribution like this for PAL," he said. Awesome!

Break Out Sessions and Facilitators

After months of planning for the conference, the Youth Conference Committee (YCC) put together a roster of exciting classes led by dynamic facilitators. The topics chosen were all pertinent to the PAL kids-issues and interests they have encountered or will encounter.
Drugs and Alcohol was led by Ty Sells, who presented accurate information about the use of alcohol and drugs and the deleterious effects on young people.
Press Play was led by Austin Steele and Askash Bakshi, who shared their experience and knowledge of video production.
Diversity was led by Ed Hayes, who led the teens to examine their perceptions and misperceptions about people they meet.
Bullying, led by Shaun Derik, deconstructed the image of a bully, and shed light on the motivations underlying bullying.
Conversations with Milton Creagh, with "Big Milt" Creagh, as he is affectionately known at PAL, encouraged developing vision to see possibilities that lead to successful outcomes.

Keynote Presentation by Dr. Nathaniel Glover

How did a child from a poor Jacksonville, Florida neighborhood overcome his underprivileged background and later become Jacksonville's first African-American sheriff in more than one hundred years? Not only that, but how did he then go on to serve as the twenty-ninth president of Jacksonville's Edward Waters College? Nat Glover did all that, and more.
"It's not where you come from, but where you're going," he said. In his presentation at the conference, he outlined how he did it and gave the PAL audience specific guidelines, point by point, so they could achieve their goals as well.

Lights, Cameras: Action! PAL Kids Perform Live!

Two new features at this YDC were the lip sync battles and the skits by the PAL chapters. These kids have what it takes to be stars. And now, with Javier Sanchez facilitating, on with the show!
The YCC's skit about stereotyping demonstrated how the 7-11 theory works: we form seven assumptions in the first eleven seconds after meeting someone new.
Ormond Beach PAL showcased a new product: Bully-Be-Gone, a spray which wards off bullies.
Satellite Beach PAL illustrated parents who love and care about their kids, and the opposite-parents who are disinterested, and how those unfortunate ones can rise above it.
Lakeland PAL dramatized how a sister encourages her brother to choose friends wisely.
Miami PAL, presented Cinderella-Miami style. "Even in Miami you can find Prince Charming."
Jacksonville PAL showed how effective leadership skills can overcome problems.
Coral Gables PAL's version of the Dr. Phil show where parents disapprovingly label one of their son's Hispanic friends as undesirable, and then find out the young man is a stellar student and athlete. Oops.
Brevard County Sheriff's Office PAL's skit suggested it's better to surround yourself with genuine friends, rather than those who talk behind your back.
Winter Haven PAL portrayed how senior high school students bullied someone considered "different".
Cocoa PAL illustrated the different forms teen dating violence can take: insults, coercion, stalking, as well as physical abuse.
New Smyrna Beach PAL showed how good manners can combat fighting.
West Melbourne PAL held initiation rites for The Order of SIAM by calling initiates Rhonda Scott, Leslie Brimer, L.B. Scott and Ed Hayes to the stage to repeat the order's mantra: Oh-wha--tagoo-SIAM. Said faster: "Oh, what a goose I am." Moral: don't blindly follow; be your own person.
Miami Beach PAL's skit showed girls leaving for a party, with one asking to be called "Ariel" because she wasn't satisfied with herself. Her friends encourage her to accept and like herself.

Let the Battles Begin

The lip sync battles were inspired by L.L. Cool J and Crissy Teigen's Lip Sync Battles on Spike TV Network. The PAL chapters spent much time in rehearsals, choosing their music and choreographing their moves. After each grouping of competitors, Facilitator Javier Sanchez asked the audience to "Show their Love" by applauding and cheering. The ones who were shown the most "love" were the winners.
Coral Gables PAL bested the YCC, and received "I Knocked out the Competition T-shirts," which they could wear proudly.
Up next were Palatka and Homestead PALs. Homestead came out on top with its rendition of a cool sax player with sunglasses, who had to "kind of fire" his band.
Jacksonville PAL's presentation of I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day topped West Melbourne PAL's Here's My Number; Call Me Maybe, though it was neck and neck.
"Make some noise," Javier called out for Brevard County Sheriff's Office PAL and Coral Gables-Coral Gables having the most noise (i.e., "love") in this battle.
"It's heating up," Javier enthused, as Miami PAL won out over Miami Beach PAL, Cocoa PAL bested Lakeland PAL, Lake Wales PAL took the prize from Satellite Beach PAL, and the YCC beat Ormond Beach PAL. After these Lip Sync Battles, no one will ever doubt that PAL kids can dance and perform!

PAL Decks Out in Black and White for the All Star Sunday

PAL participants dressed to the nines in black and white for the Black and White Party. It was a grand finale, with many Oscars awarded for stand-out performances!

  1. Dauntless PAL Star: Alexander Sutton
  2. Amity PAL Star: Natalia Durr
  3. Erudite PAL Star: Alundrea Morris
  4. Candor PAL Star: Bobbi Hudson
  5. Abnegation PAL Star: Alejandro "AJ" Varas
  6. Adult Supervisor PAL Star: Tyrone Edwards
  7. Outstanding Florida PAL Star: Patrick Trayhan from Cocoa PAL
  8. Florida PAL Achiever: Greg Erenstoft, West Melbourne PAL officer
  9. PAL Star: Allayah Goyco from West Melbourne PAL
  10. Best Costume Girl: Kira Creatura, from Satellite Beach PAL
  11. Best Costume Adult female: Officer Shamonique McDaniels, from Jax PAL
  12. Best Costume Boy: Michael Faizon, as Prince, from Jax PAL
  13. Best Dressed Adult Male: Art Shepard, from Miami Beach PAL
  14. Best Dressed Adult Female: Barbara Robertson, from CAL PAL
  15. Best Dressed Boy: Edward Shaw, from Jax PAL
  16. Best Dressed Girl: Shawna Stutz, from Cocoa PAL
  17. Best Dramatic Skit: Cocoa PAL
  18. Best Comedy Skit: Coral Gables Explorers
  19. Best Actor: Patrick Trahan, from Cocoa PAL
  20. Best Actress: Tynesha Taylor-Hymen, from Cocoa PAL
  21. Best PAL Overall Attitude: Satellite Beach PAL
  22. Best Performance: Single Ladies by West Melbourne PAL

Commendations and Recognition

In the closing moments of the conference, Mr. L. B. Scott thanked many people for their hard work behind the scenes, making the conference a success: Ms. Rhonda Scott, program and event manager; Mrs. Gwen Scott, for unfailing support; the SFAPAL Board of Directors for excellent leadership; Mr. Chris Robertson and Mr. Paul Creatura for donating the two laptops for the Boy and Girl of the Year; Max Trapasso and Kira Creatura for ably leading the YCC; each of the instructors-Shaun Derick, Austin Steele, Askash Bakshi, Ty Sells, Ed Hayes, Javier Sanchez, and Milton Creagh; the YCC alumni who came back to help; Ty Sells, for being a major player in YCC planning sessions; and Tomorrow's Team for their generous scholarships.
"Give the young folks a hand, too," Mr. Scott said. "Keep up your hard work. Later on, you'll remember some of the valuable things you've learned here. They will be your skills for life. God bless you all," he said. Mr. Ed Hayes offered a closing benediction.