Nikhil Badlani Foundation teens teach traffic safety

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Advocates from the Nikhil Badlani Foundation Youth Advisory Board presented an interactive information session on traffic safety to middle school students at Liberty School on March 20 and Roosevelt School on March 27.

With the support of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, the NBFYAB was formed in November 2018 to provide teens with a youth-led service-learning project. Members Anika Fernandez, Alexandra Kicior, Darlene Folas, Chloe Mengden, Emma Renwick and Andie Schwartz are students at West Orange High School.

“The goal of the NBFYAB is to empower our youth to make a difference in our community by providing them a channel to express their ideas,” NBF founder Sangeeta Badlani said. “Their mission is to evaluate, generate and develop traffic safety improvement plans. The ultimate goal is to reduce injuries and save lives from motor vehicle crashes.”

There are 11 members on the Board, and they have formed three committees to help them meet their goals: education, traffic safety improvements at the municipal level, and recommending and lobbying for policy changes at the state level.

The middle school presentation included information about Nikhil Badlani and his death in 2011 due to a car crash, followed by some sobering statistics. Each year 40,000 people die in car crashes, which is an average of 100 each day. More than half of all road traffic deaths occur among young adults ages 15 to 44. In 2009, 3,214 teenagers ages 15 to 19 were killed in car accidents; an average of nine teens ages 16 to 19 were killed every day from motor vehicle injuries. And 55 percent of those killed in passenger vehicle occupant crashes in 2008 were not wearing a seat belt.

The girls then presented school bus safety tips and pedestrian safety tips for middle school students, including: stay on the sidewalk and pay attention while in the street; always keep one headphone out of your ear; find a safe place to stop before texting; and exercise responsibility for yourself and others.

The messages were brought home with audience participation exercises.

Photos Courtesy of WOSD