How An 8-Year-Old Girl Convinced Obama To Visit Flint

Update: President Obama and Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny shared a heartwarming moment when they met in Flint today. Here's a photo capturing the exchange:
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For more on the Flint's water and why it matters that Obama visited the beleaguered Michigan city, check out this explainer on the crisis.

This story was originally published on May 1, 2016.

On Wednesday, President Obama will travel to Flint, MI, to see the effects of a spike in lead levels in the city's drinking water.

He'll also meet 8-year-old Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny — after all, she's the one who convinced him to make the trip.

With the help of her mother, Loui “Lulu” Brezzell, Copeny introduced herself to the White House team via email as “Little Miss Flint" and described herself as “one of the children...effected [sic] by this water.”
Copeny noted that she was planning to go to Washington to attend congressional hearings on Flint and "speak out for all the kids that live here." So, she asked if the president or first lady could find the time to meet her.

“My mom said chances are you will be to [sic] busy with more important things but there is a lot of people coming on these buses and even just a meeting from you or your wife would really lift peoples spirits,” Copeny wrote in her email.
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She didn't get to meet the president then. But days later, Copeny received a phone call from the White House. According to the Washington Post, the president had read her letter and the White House team wanted to know if it was okay to make the letter public.

After getting permission — and sending a version of the letter on official White House letterhead — Brezzell got another message: "One more thing. President Obama wants to come to Flint and meet your daughter.”

When asked about President Obama, Copeny said, "I love him. He’s nice and he’s not mean like some other presidents are.”

She also told reporters that the worst part about the water crisis is not being able to take a bath or make Kool-Aid. According to Brezzell, Copeny and her siblings are still forced to speed shower due to the high lead levels.

Copeny wants to be Miss America, and later, a police officer. For now, however, she'll settle for being Little Miss Flint and meeting with the president.
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