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Michael A. Naddeo/Courtesy Loui Brezzell

I’m Saving My Community

Mari Copeny, 12, has helped her neighbors in a big way. Here's her story, in her own words.

As You Read: Think about a problem in your community. How could you help solve it?

Jim McMahon/MapMan®

I live in Flint, Michigan. About five years ago, our water started to smell funny. My family started getting really bad rashes. My little sister had to use special medicine and be wrapped in plastic wrap to heal her skin. She wasn’t the only kid in our town who got so sick. Some people suffered from bad headaches. Others had severe stomach cramps.

It turns out the cause was our water, which was toxic. The water was contaminated with lead, a poisonous metal.

We could not drink or cook with the water that came out of our tap. We had to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and brushing our teeth. My mom told us we couldn’t take baths or play in the water.

In 2015, when I was 8 years old, I wrote a letter to then-president Barack Obama. I asked him to help the people of Flint. In response, he came to speak with our community. But I wanted to do more.

I live in Flint, Michigan. Our water started to smell funny about five years ago. My family started getting really bad rashes. My little sister had to be wrapped in plastic wrap to heal her skin. She also had to use special medicine. She wasn’t the only kid in our town who got so sick. Some people suffered from bad headaches. Others had severe stomach cramps.

It turns out the cause was our water, which was toxic. The water was contaminated with a poisonous metal called lead.

We could not drink or cook with the water that came out of our tap. We had to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and brushing our teeth. My mom told us we couldn’t take baths or play in the water.

I wrote a letter to then-president Barack Obama in 2015. I was 8 years old at the time. I asked him to help the people of Flint. He came to speak with our community in response. But I wanted to do more.

Taking Action

My friends and family helped me set up a bottled-water drive. Our goal was to raise $15,000. We collected $280,000!

For the past few years, I’ve been giving out bottles of water to the people of Flint. At every single event, we see hundreds of people lined up. After all, many people in Flint still can’t use their tap water. Every time they want to take a bath, or wash their hands, or make a cup of tea, they have to use bottled water.

My friends and family helped me set up a bottled-water drive. Our goal was to raise $15,000. We collected $280,000!

I’ve been giving out bottles of water to the people of Flint for the past few years. We see hundreds of people lined up at every single event. After all, many people in Flint still can’t use their tap water. They have to use bottled water every time they want to take a bath, wash their hands, or make a cup of tea.

“You don’t have to be an adult to change the world.”

–Mari Copeny

I’ve also used social media to ask people around the world for help. I have more than 100,000 followers on Twitter, including celebrities, politicians, and regular people from different countries. With their support, I’ve been able to collect more than half a million dollars for Flint so far.

I’ve also used social media to ask people around the world for help. I have more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. My followers include celebrities, politicians, and regular people from different countries. I’ve been able to collect money for Flint with their support. So far, I’ve collected more than half a million dollars.

Changing the World

Courtesy of Hillel Steinberg

People around the world now know me as Little Miss Flint. I love being able to give back to my community and bring my ideas to life. It makes me proud that I am able to make sure my neighbors have access to bottled water. I’ll continue to give out bottled water until every single Flint resident feels safe drinking the water from their taps.

My goal is to run for U.S. president in 2044—as soon as I’m old enough. But you don’t have to be an adult to change the world. It starts with helping out in your own community. Don’t let anyone stop you.

People around the world now know me as Little Miss Flint. I love being able to give back to my community. I also love bringing my ideas to life. It makes me proud that I am able to make sure my neighbors have access to bottled water. I’ll continue to give out bottled water until every single Flint resident feels safe drinking the water from their taps.

My goal is to run for U.S. president as soon as I’m old enough. That will be in 2044. But you don’t have to be an adult to change the world. It starts with helping out in your own community. Don’t let anyone stop you.

  1. How did the contaminated water affect people in Flint, Michigan?
  2. Summarize how Mari took action in her community.
  3. What is the purpose of the sidebar “What You Need to Know About the Flint Water Crisis”?
  1. How did the contaminated water affect people in Flint, Michigan?
  2. Summarize how Mari took action in her community.
  3. What is the purpose of the sidebar “What You Need to Know About the Flint Water Crisis”?

Close-Reading Questions

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