Becoming a WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador

In 2018 I was asked to introduce Ian Walker – Senior Director of Global Community Impact at Johnson & Johnson – at a WildHearts Your Global Goals’ schools’ event. He discussed how J&J use entrepreneurial thinking to address global healthcare challenges. He said something that really stuck with me.

“If you really believe in WHY you should do something, then no matter the obstacles you face, the HOW will fall into place”.

From my experience, his comment sums up WildHearts’ Micro-Tyco Innovate programme. The programme involves pupils in teams of 5, who are challenged to use entrepreneurial thinking to create a sustainable solution to address the United Nations Global Goals. It can be anything from an environmental to a social issue.

In today’s world, because we are significantly more connected globally than we were 5 years ago, I have become more aware of the negative impact of plastic pollution.

My team decided to come up with a local solution to this global problem. Our proposal was a bold one, to eliminate all single use plastic bottles within our school campus. During our research, we found that through the existence of a single vending machine in one of our buildings we were consuming 30,000 bottles a year. In response to this, we put together a proposal to remove the vending machine and give every student a reusable bottle instead.

After Micro-Tyco Innovate was finished I wanted to continue my WildHearts journey so I decided to become a WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador. I started by speaking at a school assembly on the dangers of single-use plastic and how our team aimed to solve it.

Two days later, a girl from S1 (Year 7) approached me to ask if I could sign her petition. The petition was to eliminate all single-use plastic in our school! She had been inspired after listening to our talk and had already managed to gather 500 signatures in only 3 days. This was the moment that I realised that this movement was not just supported by our team, but the whole school was behind us.

I am proud to say that after presenting our case to the school leadership team we have successfully removed the vending machine and stopped the sale of single-use plastic bottles on our school campus. Our efforts in making this happen contributed to my team achieving WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador Gold Status. As a result, our team were invited to the WildHearts Awards Ceremony at The Houses of Parliament to receive the Babson Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

My journey to becoming a Gold WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador has been amazing. I have spoken on stage in front of 800 students of all ages, I have led talks on plastic pollution and ways to tackle it, co-hosted the WildHearts Junior Global Entrepreneurial Leadership (GEL) Summit in Glasgow and joined a panel discussion at the WildHearts London GEL Summit.

My highlight was hosting part of the GEL Summit at the United Nations in Geneva. We joined with other WildHearts Global Youth Ambassadors and students to talk about how to use business and entrepreneurial thinking to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Before I did Micro-Tyco Innovate, I had little belief that we could have an impact at such a young age. No longer do I believe that global problems should be left to the “adults”; we can all play a part in creating solutions.

The WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador programme has given me opportunities far beyond those I could have created for myself. As a result,

  • I have learned to view the world in an entirely different light.
  • I have developed the confidence to tackle the problems that the world faces with an entrepreneurial mindset and worked with other students from all over the world.
  • I have developed my leadership skills by encouraging the younger pupils in my school to take action and have a say in the future sustainability of our planet.
  • I have gained valuable workplace skills e.g collaborating with designers and suppliers to deliver reusable water bottles for our school.

The WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador programme is a unique opportunity to make the world better. It has given me an entrepreneurial mindset, a positive outlook on how to solve the world’s biggest problems and, arguably the most valuable skill, the ability to spell the word entrepreneurial!

My advice, get involved.

Ollie Nicolson, WildHearts Global Youth Ambassador