Millions of young women and men in Africa are in the middle of the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and being heavily afftected by the needed confinement and restrictive measures to prevent further spreading of the virus. They are not only challenged due to school closure, but aslo frastructed in their daily activities depriving them from economic and social engagements and related income to carter for themselves and their families. This has tremendously increased their vulnerability and exposure to illegal activities, and furthermore, prolonged periods of closures and movement restrictions may lead to additional emotional unrest and anxieties. As a unique way of improving physical and mental well-being and a strong engine for equality, solidarity and inclusion, sport can be well invested during the pandemic period to become a bridge to better mutual understanding, through promoting societal values as tolerance, fairness, teamwork and mutual respect, leading to social cohesion and sustainable peace.
Young people in Africa are recognized as agents of change and an important resource in mitigating the COVID-19 risks and community outreach; however, they can naturally contribute to the spread of the pandemic, if not properly sensitized. This is a key consideration in a context where population density and socio-cultural fabrics challenge the effectiveness of preventive measures, such as social distancing, and where the health system profile is unable to cope with high prevalence of existing endemic diseases. In this view, investing in every resource available to fight the spread of COVID-19 is essential and the demographic dividend in youth of the continent as a critical asset.
UNESCO Regional Offices in Africa, in collaboration with the Pan-African Youth Network on the Culture of Peace (PAYNCOP), African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and other organizations committed to Youth and Sport, is organizing a webinar on the theme of Harnessing the Power of Sport in a time of Crisis: Engaging African Youth in the Fight against COVID-19 and beyond. This webinar is proposed as a platform gathering and engaging youth in Africa on the positive influence of sport on behavior, mind and attitudes and its importance in preventing anti-social and risky behavior. It also aims to capitalize on youth creativity and innovation to respond to the challenges caused by COVID-19.
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