At around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 17., three young girls were held at gunpoint down the street from the PAL center located on Clearfield and Belgrade streets. One of these young girls was an avid member of PAL and was headed home after a dance class. The gunmen were said to have been asking the girls for drugs and when they said they didn’t have any, the gunmen robbed them of what they did have-their phones and what little money they had in their pockets.
In lieu of this unfortunate event, leaders of the PAL Positive Images Program, Officer Ernie Rehr, Laura Kelly, PAL director, and Patty Pat-Kozlowski decided that instead of their usualMonday night activity, they would hold a self-defense class for PAL girls in hopes to prepare them for situations like being held at gunpoint, or being robbed.
Sensei Randy Pellowitz and his wife, Deb, from Karate 4 Women, based in Langhorne, P.A. coached the girls through a one-hour self-defense class in which they learned several basic
maneuvers in various attack situations. Pellowitz repeated each
move slowly and carefully so the girls were sure to remember.
“My goal is to not make you experts at what I do,” Pellowitz told the girls. “My goal is to try to teach you girls how to be safe.”
After the self-defense program, Officer Trina Willis, from the 24th district, also came in to talk to the girls not only about self-defense, but about sexual harassment as well. Many of the girls
asked serious questions like what do we do if we have to walk home alone and should we give the robbers what they want if they have a gun? While these questions may seem easy to answer, when actually faced with this type of situation, it can be hard for young girls to act the way they should.
“If the attacker has a gun, give him what he wants,” Willis said. “You can’t be a hero all the time.”
After the officers left, Kozlowski told the girls that Pellowitz offered them a month of free self-defense classes at his studio if they were interested. After a unanimous, “Yes!” Kozlowski created a sign-up sheet for the girls to write down what days worked best for them to attend so they could plan a time to all go together.
Since the night ended on a heavier note, Kelly decided to give each girl a beanie baby on the way out to lighten the mood.
By Ashley Huber