Five Million young volunteers to help break the chain of COVID-19 transmissions in India

As India faces the brunt of the devastating second wave of COVID-19, the country’s 300 million young people represent one of the best hopes.

A group of young Indian volunteers holding up ‘Yuwaah’ signs
24 June 2021

As India faces the brunt of the devastating second wave of COVID-19, the country’s 300 million young people represent one of the best hopes of bolstering recovery efforts. UNICEF’s and YuWaah’s (Generation Unlimited in India) engagement with more than four million young people in 2020 to alleviate the crisis inspired them to take leadership roles and make a difference in their communities.

Take Simran Varma from Uttar Pradesh, for example. During the massive influx of migrant workers returning to their villages on foot because of the nationwide lockdown, she raised money to support the many on their arduous journey. Simran says that while "The 1% may not solve the problem, 100 people with 1% of the solution probably will!”

Another inspiring example of youth activism is Sandeep Singh. In Punjab, witnessing the dramatic loss of human life during the second wave of the pandemic incited Sandeep to join the #YoungWarrior movement. "To protect my community, I took a pledge to become a young warrior. Working with an NGO, we have already distributed around 6,000 facemasks. We share the right information with as many people as we can regarding prevention and vaccination. All of us have to fight this together and defeat it together."

Simran and Sandeep are among the thousands of young people who are part of the #YoungWarrior movement—activated on 10th May 2021 by YuWaah and UNICEF. The movement aims to engage 5 million young people over 90 days to volunteer and lead action against COVID-19. The total impact envisaged is 50 million Indians since each young person enrols 10 more and pledges to take a specified action to protect themselves, their family and their neighbourhood against COVID-19.

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Portrait of a young Indian girl in a classroom setting

Each young person will learn and apply real-life tasks (hosted on online and offline platforms in 13 regional languages) based on correct information and protocols. Some of the tasks include Fake news police to debunk myths surrounding COVID-19, Vaccine buddy encourages registration for vaccination, Tension buster to enable peer-to-peer mental health support, Care Giver to capacitate caregiving at home, and CAB Influencer to promote youth-led action to amplify and influence COVID-19 appropriate behaviours. While the participants will receive a certificate on completing of all five tasks, the movement at the core thrives on self-motivated youngsters and their desire to lead change and drive impact.

Through the #YoungWarrior movement, young leaders are emerging to lead civic action to impact their communities. #YoungWarrior movement also provides opportunities for young leaders such as Krunal Shah and Debarati Ganguly, who are members of the Young People's Action Team (YPAT) to develop their leadership skills further. According to Krunal, who has co-led youth orientations, said that the passion and energy of the movement "will inspire more youth and partners to come on board to bring positive change for millions of families across the country!"

During the launch of the #YoungWarrior movement, Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports, Mr. Kiren Rijiju highlighted how young people are eager to make a difference and have proven their capability, especially during times of crisis. Mr. Rijiju maintained, “I am certain that our 6.5 million NSS and NYKS cadres will be able to contribute in a significant way to the #YoungWarrior 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.”

Pledging support to the movement, Joint Secretary Padmaja Singh, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, view the #YoungWarrior movement as timely, “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.” 

#YoungWarrior movement has become a nationwide movement and gaining momentum at an incredible pace in the last one month. #YoungWarrior movement exhibits the enthusiasm, zeal and resilience of young people and has proven the strength, power and potential of India's flourishing young population.

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