At only 8 years old Mari My’Angel Copeny, popularly known as “Little Miss Flint,” bravely spoke up for her city in a way that will make her a hometown hero for the rest of her life. In 2014, Flint, Mich., began to face a water crisis that isn’t expected to be fully resolved until 2020. In 2016, Copeny decided to write former United States President Barack Obama, and she convinced him to come to her hometown. While Flint is still facing water issues, Copeny’s gesture helped to bring greater political attention to the matter, and she has continued to be an advocate for other children who want to push for change.
Name: Mari My’Angel Copeny
Favorite app: Twitter. It allows me to keep up with what’s going on around me in real time.
What she does: I’m a kid, an activist, a world change agent, a cheerleader, and an artist.
Three words she’d use to define Gen Z: Fearless. Resilient. World changers.
How helping Flint, Mich., get clean water became her passion: I saw my siblings suffering from the bad water, and I wanted to be a voice for them. Plus nobody was listening to the grownups. I knew if I spoke loud enough they would listen to me.
What she wishes older people understood about Gen Z: We are the generation that will save the world. We won’t just talk about it. We will put our ideas to action, and we won’t wait until we grow up to do it. We are ready to work now. We have our own ideas and opinions. We will win.
How she thinks Gen Z will change the world: We are the generation that is going to stand up to the injustice in the world, we won’t allow our peers to keep getting murdered in their schools, we won’t allow politicians to use us as bargaining chips, we won’t let the government poison entire cities and get away with it.
Who inspires her: I have so many inspirations both young and old. My main inspiration right now [is] the kids in Flint. They are so strong, and showing that even something like the water crisis will not bring us down or define who we are.
Advice she would give to other girls who want to create change in their communities: If you want to create change just do it — don’t wait for anyone. There is so much you can do on your own. You are a real life superhero, and you will change the world.
Her greatest accomplishment (so far): All of my Flint Kids projects. I have been able to give $100k back to Flint Kids between my backpack distribution, Christmas party, Easter baskets, movie screenings, and water drives.
What she’ll be doing 10 years from now: In 10 years I will be in college finishing up my degree.
What she’ll be doing 20 years from now: In 20 years I will be starting to push my presidential campaign for my 2044 run.