10-year-old chosen as youth adviser
During an interview, Alex Bartels smiles as she ponders her answer to a question.
She grins, and then looks thoughtfully at the ceiling as she frames the perfect response.
After all, the 10-year-old Tonganoxie girl isn't a junior board member of BellyWashers for nothing. And because she is, she now gets to reap the rewards, such as serving as an adviser for new flavors and products, and being the recipient of new character bottles as they are released.
BellyWashers are drinks in reusable bottles that come in varying pop culture characters, including cartoon characters.
Christina Geist, senior marketing manager of BellyWashers, who described the beverage as "100 percent vitamin C juice drinks," said Alex also will serve as a BellyWashers ambassador in Tonganoxie.
Part of her responsibility will be to complete two community service projects within the next year. Applicants must have written recommendations from their teacher and parents, Geist said.
"We look for young leaders who are also creative and really enthusiastic about being a part of our program and Alex absolutely fits that mold," Geist said. "She was very articulate, she seemed to be very mature for her age and she seemed like the type of kid who would get involved with our programs actively and handle it well."
Alex, who is the daughter of Robert and Tammy Bartels, applied for the post at the suggestion of her school counselor, Pat Walker.
Included with her application forms were forms that her parents and her teacher, Karen Stephenson, completed.
"Mine had questions like 'Why do you want to be on the board?' and 'Why do you think you would make a good representative?'" Alex said. "It asked about interests and ideas and what I could do for my give-back community project and things like that."
Alex, who has a dimpled chin, brown eyes and light brown hair, fidgets like most children. When she speaks, she may start out sounding like the 10-year-old child she is. Yet more frequently than not, she's apt to say something so grown up that you wonder whether you are listening to a child or an adult.
As part of her community project, Alex said one idea might be to start a drive to ensure that all house numbers are visible from the street.
"Those are very important when an ambulance or fire truck is trying to find a house," Alex said. "Not all the houses in town have them and we're going to go down and do a survey and write down the streets where they don't have them."
Geist noted that BellyWasher board members first submit their ideas to the company.
"Each kids board member gets a budget at the beginning of the school year for their community service project," Geist said.
Part of her responsibility, once a project is approved, will be allocating the expenses for it.
"We look for kids that are leaders and organized and who want to execute those kind of projects and Alex fit the bill," Geist said.
Alex has already proven herself to be a hard worker.
She made the honor roll all four quarters last year. Alex is active in Girl Scouts, and during the school year she sings in the Kool Kids Choir. She plays soccer, and for the past four years she's been taking guitar lessons.
And, after the May 2000 tornado soaked books at Tonganoxie Elementary School, Alex initiated a drive to replace the school's books.
As for BellyWashers, Alex said that it seemed almost too good to be true when she learned she had been accepted.
She received the official news when a package arrived in her classroom at school. The package included streamers, BellyWashers products and souvenirs, and even a tape player with a tape that announced she was a new board member.
It was a day she'd never forget.
"I was just so excited," Alex said. "I was bursting with joy I was so happy."