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April 11, 2024


Andrea Castillo

(301) 699-3500 x6158

Prince George’s teens lead discussion on road safety in Transportation Safety Town Hall

Largo, Maryland – In November 2023, two students from Riverdale Elementary School in Riverdale Park, ages 5 and 10, were struck and killed as they were walking to school, a deep shock to a community that had already experienced its fair share of pedestrian accidents and deaths. Local teens like Olaoluwa Adeleke-Wales had begun meeting weekly at the Hyattsville and New Carrollton branch libraries earlier in the fall to discuss and advocate for pedestrian and transportation safety in groups led by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s (WABA) Vision Zero Youth Institute.  The deaths of the Riverdale students highlighted for the teens how important it was to make the streets safer for their families and the residents of the area. Through the Vision Zero Youth Institute, they led a walk audit from Northwestern High School to the Mall at Prince George’s, formerly known as Prince George’s Plaza, then to the Regal Hyattsville Royale movie theater, ending at the Hyattsville Branch Library, to assess safety issues along the route many in the area travel daily. The teens have also connected with local elected officials to advocate for road safety in Prince George’s County, which saw 129 road deaths in 2023, including 39 pedestrians and three bicyclists, the highest number in Maryland, according to state data. 

“Through this program, I and my three peers advocate for better and safer public transportation for youth through meeting with urban developers and more hands-on engagement like hosting walk audits,” said Adeleke-Wales, a Bowie High School junior who is interested in the way transportation issues affect the environment and society. Adeleke-Wales is one of four student interns with the WABA-led Vision Zero Youth Institute, funded by a grant from the Maryland Highway Safety Office. 

The teens’ advocacy efforts continue in a Transportation Safety Town Hall at the Hyattsville Branch Library, taking place April 13, 2024, from 11 am to 2 pm. The event is open to teens ages 14-18 in Prince George’s County, and those who register for and attend the event will receive lunch and three community service hours. The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) has partnered with WABA and the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation to host the event. 

“It’s been a really nice way to see the teens put abstract ideas into concrete action,” said PGCMLS West Area Director Heather Jackson, whose area includes the Hyattsville and New Carrollton branches. “Being able to host and give them the space to host something of this scale has been a mutually beneficial thing for this community.” 

At Saturday’s Town Hall, teens will talk with elected officials about transportation safety, as well as have the opportunity to learn how to advocate for safer transportation in the county. Guest speakers confirmed to attend are Prince George’s County District 2 Councilmember Wanika Fisher, Hyattsville Mayor Robert Croslin, Department of Public Works and Transportation Deputy Director Oluseyi Olugbenle, and Prince George’s County School Board District 3 Member Pamela Boozer-Strother. 

“This event will bring students from across the county together to learn more about Vision Zero, advocacy, and what can be done to make our county a safer place to walk, bike, take public transportation, and to drive,” said Joseph Hamd, WABA’s youth organizing coordinator for Prince George’s County. 

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About the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 967,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve book lovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. PGCMLS is the recipient of the 2021 Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator Award for Workforce and Economic Development. Learn more at