- Four Hong Kong high school students won awards for their Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) projects at the first UNITAR Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme event.
- Alvin Wong (Innovation award) runs March to Your Beat to create music therapy solutions for autistic youth with social or learning disabilities.
- Anna Wei (Presentation award) created Apogee Academy, a website where students can learn about the SDGs.
- Bella Li (Impact award) established the Global Goals Council Network to connect school councils from around the world for the SDGs.
- Jane Poon (Innovation award), is tackling toxic consumerism through ProjectProvision, a student-led organization that educates and advocates for responsible consumption and production and climate action.
17 February 2022, Hiroshima, Japan – Four high school students received awards for their projects at the first UNITAR Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme. Each has a unique background and motivation to become committed SDG champions.
What does it take to be an impactful youth ambassador today?
Among other things, curiosity, teamwork skills, perseverance, creativity – and a truly “glocal” mindset (reflecting both local and global considerations). Here, we share the experiences of four participants of the first UNITAR Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme.
The programme was launched in September 2021 with a free online event. The Youth Ambassador Asia Pacific Programme aims to empower students in Hong Kong and cities in China, as well as in other Asia Pacific countries, to help our world build back better, greener, and stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The final session in the online event was a competition, where the 16 participants presented their projects in a 7 minute pitch. Votes were cast by the audience at the event.
- For Inclusion – Alvin Wong, March to Your Beat
- For Presentation – Anna Wei, Apogee Academy
- For Impact – Bella Li, Global Goals Council Network
- For Innovation – Jane Poon, ProjectProvision
Nothing beats music to play up change
Alvin Wong (16) has a real passion for music, in particular drumming. He volunteered to drum with fellow students – autistic youth – at his school, the International Christian School in Hong Kong. It was an instant success; he received positive feedback from the students as well as teachers.
As they say, music is a language which can be used for communication. Also, it’s a language of happiness. People with autism often learn and communicate differently, Alvin says.
Alvin’s idea grew into an initiative called March to Your Beat. Its goal is to create music therapy solutions for autistic youth who have social or learning disabilities. It also involves what Alvin calls “the avocado.”
It’s a combination of a stress ball and an egg shaker, with a polystyrene shell and beads inside. Kids often enjoy playing with it, and it can help them relax. Percussion involves both hands, and squeezing and relaxing the hands can improve coordination.
Alvin aims to make even greater impact in the future, reaching out to other schools and even going international.
Alvin says he enjoyed the UNITAR Youth Ambassador Programme for many reasons, notably, meeting students from different schools and learning about the global goals they are working on. He himself is passionate about health and well-being, education and reducing inequality.
His advice to future youth ambassadors is:
Find out what you truly love. When you do something you’re passionate about, you’ll enjoy it and persevere.
Innovative ways to tackle plastic waste
Anna Wei (15) saw plastic waste everywhere she went in Hong Kong.
Swimming. Hiking. It was all around me. And most of the landfill inevitably ends up in the ocean. That made me really upset – and more aware.
Not a first-timer in social entrepreneurship, Anna was already oriented towards environmental, social and economic issues. The student of Victoria Shanghai Academy in Hong Kong decided to create a website for her project in the Youth Ambassador Programme, called Apogee Academy.
It will be a website where students can learn about the SDGs. It will involve experienced founders, advocates and educators. Youth can then start a successful organization, and learn even more about the global goals.
It was very inspiring, she says, meeting fellow students and lecturers during the programme. The sessions gave her insights about social entrepreneurship, connecting with stakeholders, leadership, economy and systems change. When the Youth Ambassadors were to choose an SDG to focus on, Anna’s team picked Goal 17:
My team chose Goal 17 Partnerships, since we’ll connect with others – groups and organizations. The target audience is our own generation of young. Many do not know about the SDGs yet and it is a good start to learn about it and do your own sustainable project.
The global goals on the schools’ timetables
If there is one thing Bella Li (17) believes in, it is networks, especially for empowering people. Inspired by her experience on the school council at the Canadian International School of Hong Kong, Bella thought that it could be smart to establish a global network of student-led and SDG-driven school councils. Thus, the Global Goals Council Network was born.
In my school I had success with hosting SDG events and with developing leadership. We arranged a summit during the pandemic and managed to reach many students. Some came in person and a lot more saw the infographics in social media, Bella says.
She hopes to see the project fly far. Already she is in touch with other Hong Kong schools and has her eyes on Singapore and India.
After participating in the Youth Ambassador Programme, Bella gained a deeper understanding of what social change entails. She mentions the book The Systems Work of Social Change by Cynthia Rayner and François Bonnici.
I never knew that change-making could include so many different steps and ways of thinking. In the programme, we are all changemakers who can learn so much from each other. We support each other.
A greener path for consumers and businesses
People who love to buy things – much more than they need – are an enormous problem, according to Jane Poon (14). The student at Hong Kong International School is tackling toxic consumerism directly. Her initiative ProjectProvision is a student-led organization which raises awareness through education and advocacy.
Overconsumption is a huge problem with many environmental consequences. My team decided to make this our target, Jane says.
Jane says that watching the documentary film The True Cost, which explores the impact of fashion on people and planet, opened her eyes to the problems. In addition, her school educated them about environmental issues from an early age, shaping her mindset and prompting her to find solutions.
We will advocate online, arrange events and STEM competitions, art exhibitions and more. We are creating a roadmap and collecting data. The goal is to push this initiative towards the Hong Kong region and even internationally.
She is zooming in on three global goals: sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.
It is not all hopeless. Being part of the Ambassador Programme taught me that both people and companies are more aware of what they can do to create more sustainable action.