San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Thousands of schoolchildren ask world leaders for action against climate change

Luciana Sánchez doesn´t want a pony for Christmas. The 9-year-old would rather her world´s leaders clean the planet.

“It´s a picture for the world to become a better place,” the Sabana Larga fourth-grader said after she handed her painting of the world held in black, white and amber colored hands, capped with a bourgeoning green tree, to Britain´s ambassador to Costa Rica, Tom Kennedy.

Luciana was one of dozens of Costa Rican schoolchildren who delivered a visual and verbal message to the Costa Rica´s international representatives on Tuesday. She participated in Cartas por Cambio (Letters for Change), a grassroots initiative that inspired tens of thousands grade school and high school students across the nation to write to presidents, prime ministers and chancellors around the globe and ask them to reduce pollution and take action against global warming.

Around 40,000 students wrote letters to heads of state from more 60 countries, the project´s leader, Roberto Jiménez, estimates. The letters, written over the past couple of months, were piled into boxes and tagged with each nation´s flag.

Each letter began with the students name, age and school. The children listed their concerns about climate change, examples of improvements that can be made and commitments they will each make, hoping that governments will follow along.

At InBio park Tuesday, less than three weeks away from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, several of the young authors lined up to deliver their pleas to ambassadors and present them with of thousands other cards from their fellow learners who could not attend.

The diplomats promised to take the requests to their bosses.

“We will certainly be sure that Prime Minister (Patrick) Manning gets this,” said Sandra Honoré, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago´s ambassador to Costa Rica, as she lifted a box filled to the brim with decorated letters and drawings.

Diplomats from Latin American countries such as Colombia and Venezuela and envoys from countries as far away as Japan each carried a box out of the park with the same guarantee. U.S. President Barack Obama was one of the children´s favorites to whom to address their letters, and will receive three boxes of cards this holiday season.

And while decision makers, politicians and emissaries wandered to the refreshment table for coffee, Luciana twisted her torso from side to side, her dark hair swaying. With her hands clutched behind her back and a shy smile on her face, she said, “If we don´t take care of our planet the people that live on it are going to be in big trouble. That´s not good for my friends and my family and our future.”

See the Nov. 27 print or digital edition for more on this story.

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