On February 14, 2019, NYPD Police Officers, New York City Police Athletic League (PAL) teenagers and Decoda artists presented a concert of their original songs at the PAL Harlem Center in Manhattan.
Police officers and youth collaborated on lyrics and melodies and created songs together through a shared experience as artists. Decoda musicians and teachers led a series of Songwriting Workshops in partnership with PAL. The Harlem Concert was followed up with a February performance on stage at Carnegie Hall.
The collaboration began with ideas about life experiences, with the theme of “My Truth: Here and Now,” such as healing, strength, struggle, honesty, loyalty, hate, trust and peace, and achieving your dreams. Original songs were then set to music. During the process of creativity and discovery, both the police officers and young people challenged each other about their stereotypes and day-to-day life experiences.
Decoda’s PAL Songwriting Project brings cops and kids together in a creative writing project and performance
Groups shared perceptions of what it means to be NYPD police officers and what it means to be young New Yorkers growing up in tough NYC neighborhoods. NYPD Police Officers wrote, “This is our truth, the path that we choose. Protecting and serving in blue.” PAL Teens said, “Examine the truth, consider my youth. I’m not that shallow.”
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New York City’s Police Athletic League is the first and finest civilian-run PAL in the country. Founded in 1914, PAL has served the city’s young people for over 100 years. PAL provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to 30,000 boys and girls annually. It is also the city’s largest, independent, a nonprofit youth organization. For more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.
Photo credit: 1) PAL youth perform with NYPD Police Officers and Decoda musicians. 2) PAL youth perform with NYPD Police Officers and Decoda musicians. 3) NYPD Police Officers, PAL youth and staff join Decoda musicians and teachers at PAL Harlem Center. Courtesy of the Police Athletic League