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Activist Mari Copeny to Receive the Changemaker Award at the Billboard Music Awards

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Generation Z activist Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, commonly referred to as “Little Miss Flint,” is set to receive the Changemaker Award at this year’s Billboard Music Awards.

On May 15, Billboard will present the award to the 14-year-old activist for her environmental work, specifically her work to fix the water crisis in Flint.

Inspired by the global protests for racial justice that arose following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Changemaker Award was created in 2020 to recognize public figures who use their voice and their reach to bring about positive change to communities. 

With her win, Copeny joins artists Killer Mike and Trae Tha Truth as the third-ever recipient of the award. 

“I’m excited to be honored by the Billboard Music Awards for my community efforts and commitment to highlight America’s water issues,” said Copeny in a statement. “I’m hopeful that this inspires others to fight for what’s right, even when no one else is looking.”

In 2016, Copeny first made her name known at the age of eight when she sent a letter to President Obama drawing attention to the Flint water crisis. 

Two years prior, officials in Flint, a predominantly Black city in Michigan, switched their water supply source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River to save money. The lack of testing and treatment of the Flint River water however led to residents reporting complaints about the smell and color of the water. Eventually, it was reported that there were elevated levels of lead in the water. 

It was Copeny’s letter that contributed to the President’s decision to go to the city to observe the toxic drinking water that Flint residents were still dealing with after two years.

Since she first stepped into the spotlight, Copeny has spoken twice at March for Science, a series of marches held on Earth Day for environmental equity, about the issues in her community. As she continued to make her voice heard, she also served as a Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington, Equality for Her and the People’s Climate March. 

While her activist efforts expanded to include putting an end to bullying and getting the younger generation out to vote with “Eighteen x 18,” Copeny continued to advocate for her community.

Throughout her activist career, Copeny has raised more than $250,000 for Flint and has distributed more than a million bottles of clean drinking water to the city. 

As part of her Flint Kids projects, she’s helped collect more than $600,000 to give back to the children of Flint by organizing events, including a “Back to School” event where she handed out more than 17,000 backpacks filled with school supplies, an annual Christmas event that hands out toys and movie nights.

To ensure that people have easy access to clean drinking water, Copeny has also worked with water purification company Hydroviv, raising more than $600,000 to make and deliver her own water filters to whoever needs them.

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