Michigan Water Crisis Propels Brownies into Action
No one knows it better than Girl Scouts—you’re never too young to speak up for something important! That’s why, when Brownie Troop #71729 from Girl Scouts of Southeastern Michigan heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, they knew they had to jump in and take action.
The girls’ venture began when they discovered the mom of one troop member was deeply involved in solving the problems caused by the water crisis. That mom, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint and leader of the pediatric public health initiative to battle the crisis, spoke at a troop meeting.
By sharing her expertise, Dr. Hanna-Attisha helped the girls understand the impact of what was happening right there, in their neighboring town. She explained how unclean water affects learning and brain function in children and why clean water is so important to healthy development. To make the distinction more tangible, the girls made their own water filters and saw first-hand the physical difference between clean and contaminated water.
Immediately, the girls expressed concern for everyone involved, but they were particularly upset at the thought that kids just like them might not do as well in school because they didn’t have access to clean water. That’s when they knew they had to do something. It was time to speak up.
After some discussion and brainstorming, the girls decided they would write letters to Michigan governor Rick Snyder advocating for the people of Flint, especially the children. In their letters, some girls expressed their anger and disappointment about the water crisis and its effect on their peers, while others urged the governor to take action and find solutions.
One thing’s for sure. Every letter was filled with passion and hope for a better, healthier future. Although the girls have not yet received a response from Governer Snyder, they have seen the media coverage about their project and know their voices are being heard, said troop leader Amber Gress.
In addition to advocating for better water, the girls wanted to do something more concrete for the children of Flint. So when Dr. Hanna-Attisha explained that one of the best solutions to counteract the effects of exposure to lead-contaminated water is learning to read at a younger age, the girls decided to run a book drive at their school. In just a month’s time, they had collected 200 books and donated them to the Reach Out and Read program at Hurley Medical Center. Amazing!
“It felt good to help other people,” said Audrey, eight. “I like being in Girl Scouts because it’s a huge opportunity to help others. I know they can never get the lead out of the kids in Flint, but we can still try and help them learn, because everybody needs to learn.”
Gress’ hope is that the girls now understand that no matter how big or small something is, they have to speak up. “Whether it’s a friend at school someone isn’t being nice to or something as big as this Flint water crisis, they can and should speak up,” she said. “I think that’s what Girl Scouts does. It teaches girls to work together and find ways to lift each other up.”
Thank you for taking a stand, girls, and know that we are standing with you!