Local girl wins Disney essay contest

Renee Shadforth
Photo by Colin FisherBrittney Brouwers is shown here with her pet guinea pig, Rapunzel.

Until now, fifth-grader Brittney Brouwers wasn’t much of a writer.

During the winter blackouts, however, Brouwers got bored and put pen to paper. Trying to find something to write about, she recalled weeks earlier when she had seen a contest on the Disney Channel, asking children to submit essays about their pets.

So she put her time without power to use and wrote an essay about Rapunzel, her longhaired Guinea pig.

After the essay had been written, proof-read and typed out, it sat on the floor of Brouwers’ mother’s car for a few weeks.

“I think [the essay] had a dusty foot print on it,” said Brittney’s mom, Brenda Brouwers.

Finally, they sent it off to the Disney Channel with a snapshot of Rapunzel.

Over the next few months, they forgot about the essay.

Until Brittany’s mother received a call from the Disney Channel.

“I thought it was a tele-marketer. I almost hung up the phone,’ she said. “The caller asked if Brittney was home, and I said, ‘No … she’s in school, like she should be.'”

When she found out her daughter had been chosen as one of 10 winning essays out of the 2,000 children who entered the contest, she went to Glenshire Elementary to tell Brittney’s teacher.

“I pulled Mrs. Echols aside, and [Echols] announced it to the class,” she said. “Brittney started crying. All of the students gathered around her.”

Perhaps more exciting than winning the contest itself, Brittney will get to see herself on the Disney Channel in August and in “Disney Adventures” magazine in September. She’ll also have her photo posted, along with Rapunzel, on the channel’s Web site.

“I’m excited and antsy,” said Brouwers of her appearance on television. The camera crew went to her Glenshire home Tuesday. “I never, ever thought this would happen to me.”

In Brouwers’ essay, she describes Rapunzel’s surprising intellect.

“I call her ‘Wee Wee,’ because every time anyone in our family opens the refrigerator, she makes a wee-wee sound,” Brouwers said. “She keeps our family from sneaking in the refrigerator, therefore keeping us all healthy.”

Brouwers brushes and shampoos Rapunzel’s hair so it doesn’t get matted. Also, the Peruvian Guinea pig’s coat falls over her eyes, so sometimes it’s difficult to tell which end in which. One time, Brouwers’ grandmother, meaning to kiss Rapunzel on the face, kissed the wrong end.

Most people think Rapunzel is a hairpiece, until she moves.

“It’s funny, because the people jump at least a foot when the ‘wig’ comes alive,” Brouwers wrote in her essay.

“I take her on walks around the yard and I talk to her,” Brouwers said. “She’s like a friend.”

Although the 11-year-old didn’t enjoy writing before, she said she wants to enter more essay contests in the future.

“I write a lot more now,” she said. “I kind of enjoy writing more.”

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