Youth Changemaker: Temitayo Fagbenle

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Why I think it is important for Kansas government officials to operate in the light of day, rather than in secret, behind closed doors: 

“Temitayo Fagbenle takes initiative to highlight and address injustice when she sees it—and is remarkably successful in doing so thanks to her courage and drive.”

- Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council

Temitayo, 17, started out as a youth reporter with WNYC's Radio Rookies in 2012. Radio Rookies trains young people to tell true stories for air on New York Public Radio and NPR. Coverage of youth in the media rarely represents what young people are truly facing, thinking and saying.

Most of the young people in Radio Rookies decide to report stories on issues that they're facing in their personal lives. Temitayo, however, wanted to go beyond herself and report on community issues that aren't covered from the perspective of the people in the community. She started out by reporting a multimedia story about stop-and-frisk policing in public housing on the Lower East Side. One of WNYC's most seasoned investigative reporters congratulated Temitayo for her in-depth reporting.

Temitayo also helped report a story about youth violence in the same neighborhood, even bravely interviewing the mother or an 18-year-old boy who'd just been killed.

In fact, she became so impassioned by these stories that she decided to continue to report on police brutality in the Bronx, and interviewed the Commissioner of the NYPD about improving relations between the police and residents of high crime communities.

After that series of stories, Temitayo decided she wanted to tackle another issue that wasn't being covered from a youth perspective: sexual cyberbullying. She reported an award-winning documentary about an online trend she finds disturbing: "slut shaming," or using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life inside out. After reporting the story she was interviewed by several national news programs about the message she was spreading.

From there, she went on to host two online live-chats where over 300 young people and educators were able to talk about the issue. She and another graduate of Radio Rookies took that conversation a step further and hosted a teen town hall, where almost 100 teenagers came together to focus the conversation about sexual cyberbullying on solutions and what can be done.

"We are the next generation of policymakers and it is important that we have a say now."

Now, Temitayo is working on a follow-up story called That Could Be Your Sister based on the findings of that town hall and starting an online movement to try to get teens to empathize with the victims of sexual cyberbullying.

"We are the next generation of policymakers and it is important that we have a say now."

Temitayo is an active proponant of youth voice in policymaking. "As teens, we are often resigned to the backseat of things, and I feel our role is often downplayed and forgotten. We are the next generation of policymakers and it is important that we have a say now, on what will affect our lives in the future," she says.

Here's how she describes herself:  a "Rookie Reporter of Nigerian descent, I attend high school in Manhattan and will graduate in January 2014. I'm blunt, hilarious, and very poker-faced most of the time, but when excited I'm known to make baby dinosaur noises."

She says: "I am surprised and honored to be have been named a "Top 24 under 24 Youth Changemaker." I am not so much concerned with titles though, as i am with actually affecting a positive change within the world."

Her first multimedia story:


Find more of her multimedia stories here.

This profile is one of the Top 24 Under 24 Youth Changemakers, a series hosted by SparkAction and the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council to recognize young changemakers influencing policy and practice at the local, state and national levels.

The members of the youth-led Campaign chose the 24 youth who are featured in this series, from entries submitted by peers and mentors.

We’re always looking for more profiles of young people making a difference, so why not submit one of your own!