West Baltimore students participating in the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Police Athletic/Activities League program now have transportation to programs and field trips thanks to the generous donation of two 15-passenger vans by MileOne Autogroup.
Only the second branch of the national program offered at a university, UMB’s PAL program provides the opportunity for elementary and middle school students to improve their self-esteem, academic performance, and social skills, while building relationships among children, law enforcement, and the community through positive engagement.
UMB launched its PAL program for children in West Baltimore in February 2018. Students from James McHenry Elementary/Middle School take part in the program, which is held at the UMB Community Engagement Center in West Baltimore. Members of the UMB Police Department (UMBPD) lead the program.
“Our PAL program is a great opportunity to provide new and engaging opportunities for children in our community,” said UMBPD Police Chief Alice K. Cary, MS. “With these new PAL vans, we’re able to take students beyond their backyards. For many, it’s their first time traveling outside West Baltimore.”
Covering more than just athletics, PAL activities take place year-round and include science experiments, physical fitness, career exploration, community service, visual arts, reading enrichment, and more. As part of their field placement, the Univeristy of Maryland School of Nursing’s public health students also lead PAL activities. The children also participate in field trips, exploring the city and beyond.
MileOne Autogroup is a family-owned business with 3,500 employees and 78 dealerships in the Mid-Atlantic region, from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.
“We’re about transportation,” said Mark Westerman, chief marketing officer for MileOne Autogroup. Through its “Transformation Through Transportation” campaign, the company has “decided to put more energy behind programs where we can provide transportation.”
UMB philanthropy officer Kyle Locke, MS, who spearheaded bringing the PAL program to the University, reached out to MileOne Autogroup chief executive officer Steve Fader, who was more than happy to donate the vans to the program.
“When I learned that the University of Maryland, Baltimore had some terrific programs for Baltimore’s youth, but they were very limited by their lack of transportation options for the kids, I recognized that MileOne Autogroup could help,” Fader said. “We are in the transportation business and we believe that transportation can transform lives.
“By supplying the two 15-passenger vans, more kids will be able to safely participate in the programs and the programs themselves will now be able to go easily beyond their current means to provide much-needed field trips for the youth. We are very pleased to be able to support UMB and their youth-oriented initiatives.”
PAL program coordinator Borndavid McCraw is thankful for the generous donation.
“We are so grateful for the donated vans that will help us take our kids on field trips and also drive them home safely, in the fall, when it starts getting dark earlier,” McCraw said. “The vans are another great way to show off the PAL program! When people see our van coming down the street, they know we are busy doing something awesome.”
Twelve-year-old Tayron Lyons expressed gratitude on behalf of his fellow PAL participants.
“I like that they can fit a whole bunch of us in it at one time. It will be good for field trips to places like the pool or the zoo,” he said.