Easing COVID-19 Impact on Children with UNICEF Volunteer Power
Volunteers have demonstrated to us the importance of bringing in people into our work during a crisis
The COVID pandemic has not left one single life unaffected. It has transformed the fabric of society and even the fabric of our households, affecting the children and young people in them, as well as adults.
Thailand is not spared: A recent study led by UNICEF Thailand in partnership with the Youth Council of Thailand and other UN agencies, uncovered that more than 7 in 10 children and young people in Thailand said COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their mental health, causing stress, worry, and anxiety.
I Am UNICEF, our volunteer programme, recognized this issue and quickly mobilized volunteers to help accelerate our COVID-19 response.
Acknowledging the need for accurate information that can save lives, we developed a three-step approach to engage our volunteers: Track, mobilize, and develop.
Through a number of volunteering opportunities offered by UNICEF, close to two thousand volunteers have since taken action in creating simple yet effective information content that children can easily process. They have also helped serve accurate information to parents and caregivers to demystify and destigmatize the virus, equipping them on how to best protect children against it.
Our work has drawn the attention of key players and influencers: TV channels such as Thai PBS covered the news, and the UNICEF team also mobilized celebrity and KoL support.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the three-step approach:
Volunteer Leaders in 17 provinces take to their communities to help children and young people cope with the recent changes brought by the spread of COVID-19. Anusorn Yingnok, a Volunteer Leader from the Bangkok area and student at Mahidol University, is focusing his volunteer project on helping his freshmen classmates adjust to online learning during the university shutdown.
Anusorn uses Facebook live to publish best practices on distance learning and organizes online meetings where he mentors younger students on dealing with studying from home. He explains that “online learning requires a more diligent process for interaction and there are challenges which may lead to ineffective learning, for example, the stability of the internet connection. However, the situation has changed me to be more disciplined with my studies, and I’m now able to help create that discipline with other younger students”.
About 800 volunteer videographers, graphic designers and cartoonist from all over Thailand and 10 other countries, have signed-up to help us build content for children and parents/caregivers. Some of these volunteers have extended their services to our regional office and other UN agencies.
Most notably, cartoonists helped develop hundreds of drawings that form part of a children’s online catalog with simple lessons to stay healthy and protected. Selected images from the catalog will be made into an activity booklet to be distributed by volunteers all over Thailand.
Volunteers were then called to bring the content developed by our great volunteers to the hands of children and communities. The volunteers also help promote the online catalog that further distribute accurate information to equip children, as well as their parents, with how to take care of themselves during the outbreak and also create an opportunity for family together-time.
These volunteer activities are highly active, with over 1,000 volunteers actively engaged, and many social media posts.
#iStayHomeToo #UNICEFThailand ชวนน้องมาระบายสี 🎨 ค่อยๆฝึกไปเด่วก้ทำได้เนอะ ช่วงนี้น้องไข่มุกระบายไม่ออกนอกเส้นแล้ว😊Posted by Asamaporn Chainarong on Friday, April 24, 2020
There is an overabundance of information about COVID-19 in the media, but much of it is mostly geared toward adults, offering them with guidance on how to inform their children. But these volunteers are helping UNICEF to create something for children themselves, both for children who have access to the internet, and for those who don’t.
Once again, volunteers have demonstrated to us the importance of bringing in people into our work during a crisis. They are helping UNICEF speak to and engage with a wider audience, including the children themselves.
Our heartfelt thanks for every single volunteer spirit.