Get-hooked June 15, 2021
Disabled youth are key members of UNICEF-Government of India initiative to tackle Covid-19 pandemic
A large number of disabled youth are coming forward to mobilise the community in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are part of #YoungWarrior – a pan-India movement to engage five million young people to tackle the pandemic.
The first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic hit Mandar Adavikar, a 30-year-old disabled youth from Maharashtra, badly. Mandar, who is hard of hearing, lost his job soon after lockdown and was struggling to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment and meet daily expenses.
With the support of Youth4Jobs, Mandar got a job at Flipkart, where his sign language skills and lipreading ability have enhanced his profile. “I feel fortunate to have landed this position in a time where there is a dearth of opportunity; my perseverance has paid off”, says Mandar.
Many disabled youth affected by Covid pandemic
Now as a part of #YoungWarrior, Mandar looks forward to communicating this positive spirit and mobilise his community and neighbourhood to take steps to protect themselves against the Covid-19 pandemic.
#YoungWarrior is a pan-India movement involving disabled and non-disabled youth supported by the CBSE, AICTE, UGC, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Atal Innovation Mission and 1350+ coalition partners across government, civil society, UN agencies and the private sector.
The aim is to empower and equip youth by educating them with information on COVID-19 appropriate behaviour, how to take care of mental and physical health so that young people can bust fake news, dispel vaccine hesitancy and even share information on home-care. To ensure that the information we share during our COVID Academy sessions is accessible, we have on-boarded sign language interpreters with the support of our partners. – Dhuwarakha Sriram, Chief of Generation Unlimited (YuWaah), Youth Development & Partnerships, UNICEF India
Disabled youth lead the fight against Covid
Some examples of the tasks required from every #YoungWarrior:
- Fake news police: Train in myth-busting tools to detect myths/misinformation.
- Vaccine Buddy – Encourage people to register for vaccination.
- Tension Buster – Enable peer to peer mental health support by youth.
Every #YoungWarrior has to enrol 10 more young people to carry out these tasks via these platforms and to protect themselves, their families and neighbourhoods against Covid-19.
A role that Pavithraj, community mobiliser with Samarthanam Trust for the Blind and #YoungWarrior in Bellary, Karnataka, has taken up in full earnest. He has distributed dry ration kits to 500 disabled people with the support of Samarthanam Trust, dropping food packets at their doorstep to ensure they can survive the lockdown. He has also distributed PPE and safety kits to frontline health workers. “I am helping those who are fearlessly going out to support people with essential services every day”, says 23-year-old Pavitharaj. He is now distributing Google Next devices to children of frontline workers so their learning progress is not interrupted.
Disabled youth reach out to most vulnerable
Class 12 student Kaavya is visually impaired, among the categories most vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus. That has not stopped her from reaching out to disabled people and elderly in Karnataka’s Tumkur district. She is coordinating with the distribution team of Samarthanam Trust to dry ration kits and packed food to disabled people and other marginalised groups. Kaavya has also supported a Covid vaccination drive for disabled people and senior citizens in Bengaluru. “I could not control my tears when I heard the touching stories of differently abled people struggling for food and dry rations”, she says.
Maitreya Shah, a visually impaired lawyer from Gujarat is also reaching out to disabled people and the elderly as a fellow #YoungWarrior. Maitreya is director of Enable me Access, a Vadodara-based disability rights organisation that’s setting up helplines to provide Covid-19 relief to disabled people in the city. From arranging transport services to vaccination centres to organising daily essentials, the organisation seeks to reduce the difficulties faced by people with disabilities. “We attempt to provide timely assistance and verified resources to those in need”, says Maitreya.
“We hope to convincingly demonstrate that young people want to lead and are capable of great leadership”, says Ravi Venkatesan, UNICEF’s global Special Representative of Young People.
Leadership that disabled youth are demonstrating by coming out in support of those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
To become a #YoungWarrior you can do the following:
- On WhatsApp, type ‘YWA’ and send to +91 96504 14141. You will be prompted to register and do the tasks.
- On Telegram, search for UreportIndia, click ‘Start’, and follow the registration process.
- On the Ureport India Facebook page, click ‘Send Message’, type YWA and hit send.
- On phone, give a missed call to 080-66019225.
- Social media – Post ‘I am a #YoungWarrior’ and tag five friends on Facebook,Twitter, Instagram.
Watch in Sign Language
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