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The Prospect Park Youth Advocates

The Prospect Park Youth Advocate Internship Program is Transportation Alternative's first youth led campaign focused on making Prospect Park car-free.  Four talented Brooklyn high school students worked hard all summer to rejuvenate the car-free Prospect Park campaign while learning first hand about advocacy and community organizing. They blogged (check out http://youthforcarfreeparks.org/), performed street theater, met with New York City Council members, appeared on television, recorded cars breaking the speed limit in the loop drive, and gave out free lemonade and ice tea to park goers.  On September 15, 2008, the Youth Advocates, joined by supporters from Freedom Academy High School, the Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment and the Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to rally at City Hall and hand deliver more than 10,000 signed postcards asking Mayor Bloomberg for a car-free Prospect Park.  Simply put, these young Brooklynites are awesome.

Kelena Matthews: [00:00] The Prospect Park Youth Advocate Program is Transportation Alternative’s first outreach program with the youth for trying to get cars out of Prospect Park.

Jessie Singer: [00:11] All these advocates go to high school around the park, so they come here for prop, they conduct their science classes here, they run their track, you know, in Prospect Park.

Farah Karimova: [00:20] I was… my Prospect Park to be safe, green, healthy and most of all, car-free.


Oswald Bowman: [00:32] Come down here, step on down, come on.

Kelena Matthews: [00:39] We’re really focused at people and we know what we want and we actually want to make a difference in the world.

Michael Cheng: [00:48] Some people, we don’t have to ask, they come in and they just ask let me get a postcard.


Speaker: [00:57] Our main goal is to get rid of all the cars in the park.

Speaker: [01:00] We go around and just talk to people, just walk up to them and say, well I work for Transportation Alternatives and we’re trying to get cars out of the park, and ask them to support us by signing one of the postcards.

Speaker: [01:09] Our goal was about 10,000 postcards, which we did acquire.

Speaker: [01:15] It’s another way we try to get peoples’ attention is doing like street theatre. The other day we did Trees on Strike and we dressed up as trees and we walked around the park and had signs and we got people to sign postcards.

Farah Karamova: [01:26] I feel really good, like I feel very honoured that they stop.

Speaker: [01:32] No cars, more bicycles.

Farah Karamova: [01:32] That’s right. Like I love that positive attitude. Some people, even like the negatives, it’s always good to change them into positive. Come here, you want to sign a postcard? Car-free park. Yeah, it’s a great feeling.

Kelena Matthews: [01:49] And another we work is with free iced tea and they could sign a postcard and get a cup of free iced tea.

Speaker: [01:55] It’s not everyday that you get such a great opportunity to actually use our right to petition to make great changes.

Speaker: [02:02] And today we’re going to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, then we’re going to rally at City Hall where we address our cause to the people and Mayor Bloomberg.


Letitia James: [02:24] I would urge that the Mayor of the city of New York give these young men and women a chance, listen to their plea, listen to their arguments for a car-free Prospect Park.

Oswald Bowman: [02:38] I’m really proud to stand here today in front of all my peers, in front of kids like me, who all believe that we can make Prospect Park a much better place.

Paul Steely-White: [02:46] The youth advocates are so important because they are key to New York City’s future. But I think we need to revise that a little bit today in light of the tremendous amount of attention that you have all brought to the cause. I think the youth of today, here today, are New York City’s present, not just New York City’s future.

Michael Cheng: [03:09] We’re just going to sit back and wait and maybe everyone will finally give us at least a three month closure and that would be a huge step, a huge major step forward.

Kelena Matthews: [03:18] Next year, well if it’s not us, it’s somebody else that will follow our footsteps, you know. It’s very exciting.

Farah Karimova: [03:26] Turkish it would be park our buses. In Russian [speaking Russian]. In Azerbaijan it’s [speaking Azerbaijan]. And in English, car-free park.


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  • http://www.livablestreets.com/people/Becca Rebecca Jacobs

    Go youth advocates! I love the leaf costumes.

  • Momita

    Awesome what people can do when they really care about something! Great video and a good template for effective advocacy.