Police Athletic League changing lives

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-18 19:25:37-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Jonathan Taylor is known as ‘Coach JT’ to the kids at the West Palm Beach Police Athletic League Center. Twenty years ago he was just like them.

“I started with PAL at 11-years-old,” Taylor recalled. ”It was about 15 kids. We were out just in the neighborhood walking around with nothing to do and an officer came up and asked us if we wanted to be part of wrestling."

Taylor signed up and says wrestling with PAL changed his life.

"Oh wow where would I be? I would like to say I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now talking to you about this," said Taylor.

Thank to PAL Taylor wrestled his way through high school and college and now it's his career.

"Coming full circle now back at PAL as a director and being able to really understand where these kids are at and where they're trying to go."

Taylor and the police working with PAL try to persuade at risk teens to stay on the straight and narrow with sports and activities.

"Without pal to be honest some of the kids they may go down the wrong path," said West Palm Beach Detective and PAL coach David Washington. PAL is a very good influence on the kids and the coaches, myself we try to be a father figure for them, a bigger brother and help them out."

Taylor knows there's still plenty of young people to reach.

"I stand outside this door sometimes maybe 20 or 30 minutes," Taylor described.

Checking on neighborhood kids, handing out packets, and telling kids why they need to be a part of PAL.

"The kids that we have been able to grab and bring in the building they don't want to leave now."

Registration is now open for the West Palm Beach Police Athletic League wrestling team. Boys and girls aged 5 to 14 are eligible for the team. Click here to sign up.