SAN ANTONIO — Arjun Rao is likely more active than an activist. But that did not stop the 10-year-old boy from taking a stand against Texas Governor Greg Abbott's wishes.
"I feel like I did something," Rao said.
March 2, Abbott announced opening the state up 100% and rolling back any mandates on facial covering for the coronavirus. When Rao's grandparents told him about the news, he reacted.
"He was very, very upset," Kavitha Palimar said. "I said, 'Well, we can do something about it.'"
Retired pulmonologist Prakash Palimar said his grandson wondered what he could do at such a young age.
"He came with an idea that he wants to write somebody in the government – and the responsible people," Palimar said.
The 71-year-old told his grandson he could address the letter to any person holding office. His explanation gave birth to writing Governor Abbott.
"I just wrote what came to my mind and then made it better," he said.
With help from Kavitha, grandfather, and mother, Pooja, the Bonnie Ellison Elementary School student, had more than he realized.
"Empowerment. That's what he learned," Kavitha said. "Even a child can also have the power to communicate."
Rao's mother emailed the letter to the governor for her son. She set up a petition on Change.org for him too. He wants Abbott to reconsider the face mask mandate.
"Ok, I have three main reasons why," Rao said.
The elementary school student said for the elderly, educators, and healthcare workers.
"My dad was working in the hospital," Rao said. "Last summer, he stayed away from us because he was working the COVID floor."
Rao's petition has more than 500 signatures right now. His effort is gaining attention even from his Northside ISD principal, Julie Meneses.
She said their motto is 'Be innovative. Be Bold. Be Ellison.'
"Our little leaders hear this on a daily basis because we always want to encourage an environment rich in risk-taking and solution-driven thinking," Meneses said. "We are so proud of Arjun for doing this very thing by writing to Governor Abbott."
She said he is a role model to younger students. He's also inspired his younger sisters, who now believe a fifth-grade project is a new tradition.
"I think it's a very proud moment," Kavitha said.
His grandfather agrees with his 59-year-old wife, especially since such freedom did not exist to them as children.
"If a child can think about it, why not?" Palimar said.
Abbott's press office did not respond to an inquiry about receiving the letter or if the governor will write back to the child.
"I really want to hear back from him," Rao said.
The youngster does not know what his next project might be. As of today, he wants to become a rocket scientist. Running for mayor, governor, or president of the United States is not out of the question.
But he's anxiously awaiting his response from Abbott and even has a prepared statement.
"Thank you for reading my letter," he said. "I hope I changed your mind."