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NYC Teen Speaks at COP 18 in Qatar About Her Uncle's Death Due to Sandy and Her Activism on Climate Change

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NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- High school senior Maya Faison became an activist on climate issues in Global Kids (www.globalkids.org), a nonprofit education organization, but never could have imagined how an extreme weather event like Sandy would affect her life so dramatically. Maya's family was without power or heat for ten days in their home in Laurelton, Queens. "We were freezing and afraid, not knowing what to expect," says Maya. The fear was compounded when Maya's mother ran out of gas for her car after the storm, which made traveling to friends' homes for warm showers and meals more of a challenge. But it was her uncle's death that truly made Sandy a devastating reality. Maya's uncle, 74-year-old Albert McSwain, considered the 43rd victim of Sandy, fell in his home in the Rockaways due to not being able to see from the lack of electricity.

As an activist involved in Global Kids, as well as one of its board members, Maya worked on climate issues before Sandy. She worked with a group of peers to develop a campaign to convince President Obama to attend the Rio+20 Earth Summit, held in Brazil this past June, twenty years after the first Earth Summit. However, despite her significant knowledge of the realities of climate change and her hopes to persuade government leaders to take immediate action on both adapting and mitigating climate change, nothing could have prepared Maya for the havoc caused by Sandy. "It scares me to know that I am going to leave my family when I go to college next year knowing that they can be trapped, unable to go anywhere, if another heavy storm comes," Maya says.

Maya will discuss her and her family's experience this morning, in an official side meeting at the COP 18 meeting taking place in Doha, Qatar, "Youth Facing Climate Change across the US." The 2012 UN Climate Change Conference, COP 18 (the 18th Conference of Parties), is serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of the year. The Doha negotiations is the biggest climate meeting this year and many environmental advocates are calling not only for developed countries to sign on to the second commitment period of the world's only legally binding climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, but also for the nations involved to increase their emission reductions within the treaty and to close the loopholes that existed within it, which would let 30 billion tons of carbon escape into the atmosphere.

Maya will be video-conferenced in from her school, Long Island City High School. In addition to the direct impact of Sandy, she will also speak about the changes she hopes to see in public policy so that the U.S. government creates a climate recovery plan and also is better prepared for disasters caused by the effects of climate change. "Just like we have fire drills in school, we need to have evacuation plans and disaster preparedness kits. We also must rely less on oil and more on alternative energy so when disasters strike we are not left in the dark."

Global Kids, Inc. - the premier non-profit educational organization for global learning and youth development - works to ensure that urban youth have the knowledge, skills, experiences and values they need to succeed in school, participate effectively in the democratic process, and achieve leadership in their communities and on the global stage. www.globalkids.org

The Global Kids, Inc. logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=4850

WHO: Maya Faison, 16 year old Long Island City High School senior and Global Kids youth leader

WHAT: NYC teen impacted by Sandy speaks at COP 18 meeting

WHERE: Long Island City High School; panel will also be streamed live (contact for more details)

WHEN: Thursday, November 29th, 8:30-9:00 AM EST

CONTACT: Molly Delano Global Kids, Inc. cell (718) 812-8604 molly@globalkids.org

Source:Global Kids, Inc.