Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League

Written by: mag mag

For many Minnesotans, summer is an opportunity to head to the lakes. For the Moorhead Police Department, it’s an opportunity to head to the gym—and bring some area teens with them.

The Moorhead Police Athletics and Activity League (PAL) has teamed up with EHP Performance to create a pilot program designed to encourage healthy lifestyles and facilitate conversations between the officers and area youth.

The teens selected by the Moorhead School Resource Officers, with recommendations from teachers, have been meeting with volunteer police officers for a two-hour session twice a week since June 6to work out, participate in a short lesson, and spend time with each other.

“Up until now, our programs have mostly been ‘one and done’ type of events— like our Cops and Kids hockey games, providing bikes for kids, and the ShopWith-A-Cop program. Those are all positive contacts, but this is the first time focusing on something that really has that one-on-one mentoring,” explains Sergeant Scott Kostohryz, Executive Director of the Moorhead PAL program.

The National Police Athletics and Activity League has a grant from the Department of Justice that allows sub-awards to local PAL programs. Moorhead PAL received one of the sub-awards in May which allowed them to move forward with the pilot program, which is unique to both Moorhead and the National PAL program.

“Of all the PAL programs in the 38 states available for this sub-award, no one’s ever tried something like this—the workout session, followed by positive messaging. We’ve been working with EHP to help us bring about this program, but it’s all really new,” Kostohryz says.

The 14 teen participants have been meeting up with Moorhead officers twice a week since June 6 to work out together, share a short lesson on positive attitudes and healthy habits, and then just visit.

“The educational curriculum is really designed to create conversations together rather than reading from a book. We’re trying to get to know the kids on a personal level. A lot of times that isn’t even a conversation. It means just listening. We’re really trying to learn from each other,” continues Kostohryz.

In addition to their enthusiasm for working with kids, EHP Performance was chosen to pilot the program due to their location in the old industrial park which places them within biking distance for the kids selected for the program.

“The biggest barrier for kids that need something constructive to do in the summer is transportation. You can’t hope to have a successful program without thinking about that first,” Kostohryz said.

As the May 2023 grantee of the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation, Moorhead PAL was able to cover the small amount not covered by the Department of Justice sub-award. In addition to curriculum costs and discounted gym rental fees, the funds provide participants with their own workout gear—including clothing, grips, chalk, jump ropes, water bottles, and backpacks. The seven Officers participating are donating their time.

“Being short-staffed, the officers are working 50-60 hours a week,” states Kostohryz. “So asking for an additional four is a big ask. But positive community relations have never been more important than now when negative behaviors in schools are on the rise. With COVID everyone kind of shut down, and our youth especially have struggled. We see this as an opportunity to address that a little bit. Our staff is volunteering for this because they really see the value. We don’t want to preach to these kids. It’s not a babysitting club. We’re having conversations. We hope we’re connecting with them in a positive way.”

Participants and officers are learning as they go, and trying to be flexible as they continue into July for the second half of the program. While partnering with EHP Performance and Moorhead Public Schools specifically, Kostohryz credits the ability to try out the new initiative to the overall community.

“All the programs we do—the bikes, the shopping, this—can’t happen unless we have community support. Moorhead is an amazing community. It’s really comforting that between private businesses, banks, nonprofits, and the public, we have a strong base to rely on. I’ve never had anyone tell me ‘no’ when we’ve needed something. That support, knowing that other people are there to help you, really helps energize your goals.”

Community members who wish to learn more about the Moorhead Police Athletics and Activities League are encouraged to contact Sergeant Scott Kostohryz directly.

[email protected]

The Cass-Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a nonprofit. Applications can be made at

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