How has gun violence impacted your life?
Growing up in the Chicagoland area as well as going to boarding school in Metro Detroit, exposed me to the unfortunate reality of gun violence among young children and teens. In addition, while researching gun violence, I learned that my aunt gained access to her grandfather’s gun and accidentally shot herself in the hand. That incident and others on the news gave me a personal connection and made me realize the urgency to find a solution to this problem.
Tell us about your GoFund Me initiative.
I’ve recently won $25,000 from the Black Ambition Initiative, founded by Pharrell Williams, for my device and app. Unfortunately, much more is needed. The GoFundMe dollars will have to fill the gap needed for the completion of the development along with marketing and sales. We have established Kayla’s Safety Circle through GoFundMe for individuals to donate and support the overall effort.
How did you get people to take you seriously about your invention?
I started this project when I was 12 years old, so some people didn’t take me seriously. However, when I got a patent-pending and proof of concept, people realized I was serious about my work. Gun violence is an issue that plagues our country, and it is now the leading cause of death for young people (ages 1 -18) in the United States. Americans are now starting to wake up and realize that My Gun’s Been Moved could help change this statistic.
How has your life changed by winning the $25,000?
Winning a Black Ambition Prize has opened up so many doors for me including the opportunity to participate in the 2023 CES Conference as an exhibitor. In addition, it has expanded interest and support within media and community as well as let me know that other people are just as passionate about using tech for social impact.
In addition, the HBCU community has made me feel celebrated for my contributions to the world. It is important to me that I leave a legacy.
What would make your invention a success?
If it saved just one life, it would be an overwhelming success.
We Where do you see your life in the next five years?
In the next 5 years I envision the My Gun’s Been Moved “sensorsafe pad” in every American household
Kayla Austin is a sophomore at Howard University majoring in Film with a minor in Business. She is a former boarding student at Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan outside of Detroit. Kayla is a passionate creator, influencer, entrepreneur, film maker, and inventor. At Howard she is a member of Howard University Film Organization and is a photographer for Howard University ELITE Models. She created her first invention at 7 years old for a school project.
She is a graduated Girl Scout, she began at the age of 5 and has received her Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards.
For the past 7 years, Kayla has been focused on making a difference in the area of gun violence against kids. After being ignited by her participation in the NAACP Jr. ACT-SO program, Kayla has been determined to use her creative energy to design and build a device to help combat the devastating problem of gun violence against kids age (0-19). She currently has a patented pending, a working prototype, and is in the process of building out her business. Her work as an activist as well as a creative has led her to become the national spokesperson for “Shoot Film Not Guns” which is a part of the American Youth Film Festival.
Kayla was selected as one of 50 African American girls to participate in Black Girls Lead program at Columbia University and the BET Black Girls Rock Televised program where she was also honored by Monarch Magazine as a part of the Red-Carpet Media team.
In December of 2022 she was also announced by AT&T team as one of their 25 Dream in Black Rising Future Makers for their first ever cohort. In addition to this, the National Urban League identified her as a 2022 Future Black History Maker.
Kayla has helped students across the country raise their voices about numerous social justice issues in her book and website “How to Be a Teen Advocate”. She’s raised over $3200 for 300 teens from the Chicagoland and Detroit to watch and discuss the riveting movie on gun violence called “The Hate U Give”. She partnered with Rainbow Push, Victory Cathedral Worship Center, and Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Mi to acquire community participants in a panel that she facilitated.
Kayla is a young “powerhouse” and has participated in several panels and speaking engagements including a “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” panel discussion in Chicago with an Illinois State congressman and US Congressman Bobby Rush, an Entrepreneurial panel discussion at the Quad County Urban League’s Women’s Empowerment Summit, a teen tech conference sponsored by Microsoft and Rainbow PUSH, and several other teen conferences.