The state of Michigan switched Flint, Michigan’s water supply in 2011 from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which is notorious for not being the cleanest water source.
They did this to save money, and in the process, failed to treat the corrosive water. The water began making people sick.
“They complained of skin lesions, memory loss and depression and expressed concerns about Legionnaires disease, miscarriage and childhood development,” according to CNN.
Now in 2018, their water is still contaminated.
But one young girl is trying to help her city. And she is succeeding.
Yesterday we passed out 135,000 bottles of water to Flint residents in 93 degree heat. We helped close to 1,000 families. People lined up 2 hours early and caused a traffic jam most of the distribution. #FlintIsStillInCrisis #Flint pic.twitter.com/02MkBM6WOm
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) May 28, 2018
Known as “Little Miss Flint”, 10-year-old Mari Copeny has become a young activist for her city and has been bringing national coverage to the continuing crisis. I had the chance to talk to her about what she is doing and what she hopes the future holds.
Why did you start posting about the crisis in Flint?
“I kept meeting people that did not know what was happening in Flint. My mama was already posting pictures on her Instagram page but she didn’t use her Twitter page, so I took it over and started posting. I wanted the world to know what was happening here.”
What were everyone’s reactions at first?
“At first nobody believed it was really me. They thought it was my mama acting. But the more I posted the more people realized it was me. Now she has to watch my page because of mean people posting mean things she doesn’t always want me to see.”
What do you hope to accomplish?
“I want Flint to have clean water. I don’t want the people here to be forgotten. I also want kids to know that they can change the world no matter how small or young they are; that all they have to do is use their voice and stand up for what they believe in.”
What was it like meeting President Obama?!
“It was amazing. I ran up to him and gave him the biggest hug ever. He picked me right up. He told me he was going to talk to me and to make sure I do my homework. He pointed me out in the crowd and my entire city cheering for me.”
— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) May 5, 2016
If there’s one thing you hope people take away from “Little Miss Flint” what is it?
“I am just a normal kid that loves to play with my American Girl dolls, read comics, draw and cheer, but I also love to speak out for my city because the water is still causing issues for so many people. I want people to know that I want to change the world and that I hope to be elected President in 2044.”
The little girl with big dreams has also been taking big actions. She has a campaign to help raise money for Flint by selling shirts.
On the campaign page she writes:
“As you know this shirt is an amazing way to not only help Flint Kids but also help raise awareness that the Flint Water Crisis is not over and we need to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten. Thank You.”
Little Miss Flint is not stopping there, though. Recently she partnered with Pack Your Back to provide over 1,000 backpacks to Flint area kids and $13,000 worth of toys and games to a local Children’s Hospital.
She also organized screenings of the Marvel movie “Black Panther” and the Disney movie “A Wrinkle in Time” for hundreds of local Flint kids.
This girl is not going anywhere, and the activism and work she is doing to make not only her city but also the world a better place is truly amazing.