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Message from UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force during COVID-19 pandemic

03/04/2020
17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Dear friends in Asia and the Pacific, and across the world,

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic affected us all. We are concerned that this global health emergency is already having negative impact on economies, on livelihoods and our wellbeing. Without much warning, we are finding ourselves engaged in the common fight against this new challenge.

While we are locking ourselves down and self-isolating to defeat the virus, we declare our resolve to use the spirit of sport: friendship, solidarity, empathy for others, cooperation, and the mutual respect to overcome this challenge, together.  We, the members of UNESCO’s Youth and Sport Task Force, are actively supporting each other, as well as our communities, in using the power of sport to heal, to come together, to promote mental health, and to maintain physical wellbeing.

It is a time to remember those who are most vulnerable, the elders and those with existing medical conditions, and the millions of voiceless people living among us – the homeless, the poor, the forcefully displaced people, and many other marginalized groups and individuals. We urge all our member and our friends and followers, in the spirit of sport, to:

  • Follow closely the instructions of experts and health authorities in national governments and the World Health Organization on how to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and everyone else.
  • Be vigilant against accepting and spreading disinformation and misinformation about the pandemic and related issues on social media.
  • Be very active on the available online platforms and use the available information technologies to continue communicating, planning, exchanging ideas, organizing online mutual activities, etc.
  • Use the time for meditation, introspection, critical thinking, and mental preparation for building a better world.

“We are united in our passion for sport and our belief in its power to keep people connected. We will be using the values of sport to help us get through this difficult time, together.”

The Youth and Sport Task Force represents creative, passionate and innovative young leaders across Asia and the Pacific who use sport as a tool for positive social change in their communities. These young leaders and activists are using sport to make a difference: to empower young women and girls, to promote tolerance, to counter extremism, to reach out to the vulnerable and marginalized, to educate about the environment, to promote the values of respect, empathy, and fairness.

To see how the members of the Youth and Sport Task Force are helping communities cope with the COVID 19 related challenges, check out the following stories:

Rico (Yik Wai Chee) - Malaysia

Yik Wai Chee (Rico) has stepped up and joined Oslo-based Young Sustainable Impact's (YSI) "Solution for COVID-19 innovation programme" remotely as a mentor to guide and strategise effective digital solutions by new non-profit startups to solve and mitigate some of the severe negative impacts caused by COVID-19 pandemic globally in the area of legal advice, logistics risk management, and strategic communications.

He aims to deploy some of the skills gained from supporting large scale sport events into supporting logistics/resources deployment in identifying potential mass quarantine venues that can be converted into temporary medical facilities not just for all confirmed cases but also front line workers who may have very high risks of getting infected themselves in different parts of the world through this YSI special programme which works with multilevel stakeholders.

As sport is one of the worst-hit sectors due to this pandemic, he wants to be the change that he wants to see to make direct and immediate efforts to help put this currently bad situation to an end to reduce the casualties and losses caused to the world community.

Now more than ever, we need to strengthen social connection along with physical distancing. As every single one of us is impacted in some way, it is very important as the community to listen to one another story. Listening to each other can provide healing, taking action to slow down, and encourage us to have a better reflection.

Prathna, UNESCO Youth and Sport Taskforce Member

Yeang Sethsamprathna - Cambodia

Prathna is currently working as Technical Specialist on Adolescent, Youth and Gender at World Vision International in Cambodia. The same as most of the people during this pandemic, Prathna is working from home and continues to provide technical support for field staff working directly with young people in the community.

As physical routines in his youth program are being paused while gathering is restricted, young people become disconnected from relationships and sense of community. To ensure having a safe platform for young people to socially engaged, Prathna and his technical team have developed adaptive implementation guidance using a relationship lens that field staff can use to engage young people.  The guidance is to make sure that young people can get the support they need through extensive care, challenge growth, and expanding possibility. While sport is still the best way to cope with uncertainty, innovation in sports now is what we need for young people to adapt.

Besides his work at World Vision, Prathna also hosted two mindful catch-up sessions with other Youth and Sport Taskforce members.

Lokesh Jurel - India

Lokesh Jurel, who is working as Program Associate  in Umoya Sports, had an initiative during the pandemic to distribute ration, food and tea to daily wage earners, cleaning champions and other roadside dwellers.

He saw that the sudden lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge humanitarian crisis, impacting millions of people in India losing their jobs and daily income. Besides the shutdown of transport, people were stranded with lack of basic amenities such as places to stay and food to eat.

Lokesh said that "Being a social worker it is my responsibility to leave the comfort zone and come up with society to fight against COVID-19." As a  member of UNESCO Youth and Sport Task Force, he was inspired to distribute the food to the people in need. He prepared 50 to 100 packets for breakfast and dinner every day. Lokesh told that "This is the task that strengthens my mental health every day in the event of an epidemic. This is the time to come together, and it's the only way that things will get better, and we will come stronger as a society once this pandemic passes."

Along with many CSOs in India, he said that it's a proud and humbling moment for them to be able to give back to society. Lokesh believes that everyone can participate in their own way to help others to create an inclusive society.

#Staypositive