New Delhi: the Ministry of Youth Affairs (MoYAS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), YuWaah and UNICEF, with the support of 950+ coalition partners across Government, Civil Society, UN Agencies and Private Sector, activated – #YoungWarrior – a pan-India movement to engage 5 million young people across the country to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
As India faces the brunt of the devastating second wave of COVID-19, 300 million young people represent one of our best hopes at a solution. Our engagement with millions of young people last year to support the response to the crisis, led them to identify a strong desire, and leadership skills, to make a difference at a crucial time like this.
The engagement is simple so that young warriors can mobilise, connect, learn, influence and lead action against COVID-19 accelerate a return to normalcy. Each young person has to be enroll his/her peers, and pledge to protect themselves, their families and their neighborhoods against COVID-19 by undertaking specific actions.
This engagement will comprise a series of easy and real-life tasks with the #YoungWarrior earning certification for their actions. These tasks will be hosted, both online and offline, in 10 regional languages. The first is a technology-based chat-bot platform – UReport (WhatsApp ‘YWA’ to +91 96504 14141); the second is an Interactive Voice Response (IVR)-based platform (missed call to 080-66019225) for young people who may not have WhatsApp/Internet; and the third is through community radio for those who have no access to phones or internet.
Some examples of tasks include: ‘Fake news police’: train in myth-busting tools to detect myths/falsehood/misinformation; ‘Vaccine buddy’: to encourage registration for vaccination and ‘Tension buster’: to enable peer-to-peer mental health support by young people.
This will be supported by a knowledge and learning hub, with indexed state specific information tools and blended learning modules that are adolescent and youth friendly. Further, safe spaces will be facilitated for coping and healing through peer networks, counseling, and mentoring services. Finally, the key messages and positive stories of youth action will be promoted on social media through partners and influencers.
With his enthusiasm for encouraging youth-led action, Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Mr. Kiren Rijiju announced the activation and committed by saying “In my time as the Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, I have seen how determined and impactful the work of young volunteers can be, especially in crisis situations. I am certain that our NSS and NYKS cadres will be able to contribute in a significant way to the #YoungWarriors movement by mobilizing their vast networks to reach every corner of the country with resources, information, and opportunities to come together and fight this second wave.”
Encouraging young people to take action, Ms. Usha Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said, “I strongly believe young people hold the key to leading our country out of the current crisis and towards hope and healing. If we can equip young people with the right support, they can change the course of the COVID-19 trajectory in India. It is my appeal to all young people to actively participate in the movement and encourage their friends and peers to join us.”
Supporting the activation of the movement, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative in India and Co-Chair of YuWaah said, “A devastating second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping across India, and young people have taken on an urgent call to action in the fight against it. YuWaah, as a multi-stakeholder coalition, is ideally positioned to meaningfully partner with these young people to combat COVID-19 with the knowledge they need to keep their families and neighbourhoods safe.”
Ravi Venkatesan, UNICEF’s global Special Representative of Young People added: “We have assembled a powerful ecosystem of partners from civil society, government and private sector who are coming together in an extraordinary way to support the #YoungWarrior movement. We hope to convincingly demonstrate that young people want to lead and are capable of great leadership.”
Pledging support to the movement, Joint Secretary Padmaja Singh , Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, “The #YoungWarrior movement is timely to receive support from young people on COVID-19 response, given the start of 18 plus vaccination. We believe young people can lead the way in ensuring the safety of their communities, get vaccinated, and encourage communities to sustain COVID Appropriate Behaviours.”
The #YoungWarrior movement, led by young people, will see them mobilize, connect, learn, lead, influence, and take action to accelerate the response and return to normalcy. Debarati Ganguly, a member of the YuWaah Young People’s Action Team (YPAT) said, “We are leading this national movement and we will motivate our peers to join us and share the correct information on COVID Appropriate Behaviours, access accurate information on health and essential services, and encourage eligible family members and neighbours for vaccine registration”. Krunal Shah, also a member of YPAT said that “This pandemic is also more severe for vulnerable populations, especially adolescent girls and women and people with disabilities. We bring the passion and energy for equity into the Young Warrior movement. I believe this will inspire more youth like us and partners to come on board begin to see the positive change for millions of families across the country!”