Nobody could’ve imagined the turmoil that the year 2020 would bring. The civil society sector was greatly impacted by the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures, curfews and the subsequent lockdowns, impeded on organizations’ ability to work in communities, advocate and mobilize. Youth Lab was no exception, and we spent time learning how to adapt to a new way of working, connecting and leveraging social media to reach youth.
As part of our strategy to stay connected with youth and document their experiences with Covid-19, we introduced weekly Twitter Chats to unpack the social challenges that youth are grappling with parallel to the pandemic. We covered a number of topics guided by experts, from understanding the dynamics of e-learning to adapt to lockdown measures, accessing SRHR when hospitals and clinics are overcrowded, taking care of mental health and wellbeing during the lockdown and government support for youth-owned businesses affected by lockdown regulations. We hosted two major virtual events in June and again in September looking into the legacy of apartheid in the education system and how to recenter African intellectual labour in celebration of Heritage Month. You can catch up on both vents here: https://iono.fm/e/889494 and https://iono.fm/e/931724
In July, we launched our first response program to Covid-19 in collaboration with Brave Together and the spotlight was on mental health. According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s website, SADAG received more calls since the start of lockdown from people feeling anxious, lonely, worried and depressed. Many callers are stressed about a combination of issues including the spread of COVID-19, finances, relationship problems, job security, grief, gender based violence and trauma. The Psychology First Aid program connected young people with trained counsellors over four weeks to unpack practical ways of coping with anxiety and stress.
The Grandpa Spaza Academy made an official comeback in September taking spaza shop owners through a four-week business training program to help them manage their resources and grow their business. The second cycle of the academy adopted a digital approach and made use of an online platform to deliver the program; giving us the opportunity to embrace digital technology while minimizing contact in line with Covid-19 regulations. We’re incredibly proud of this innovative milestone which allows participants to learn from the comfort of their homes or shops while staying safe.
Although the storm isn’t over yet, we’re excited for the new year and for the opportunities we’ll have to make a positive contribution in the lives of young South Africans. We wish you a prosperous and healthy year ahead.
Youth Lab is a youth policy think tank that works to improve youth capacity and mainstream youth participation in community building and policy making. Our goal is to find young peopl where they are, and work together so that youth voices can be amplified and youth work can be supported.
Youth Lab is a registered non-profit company (NPC), with 100% of the ownership being young, black women
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