Connecting young people during the global pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruption and trauma at all levels of society.

Programs like ChildFund Pass It Back have been heavily impacted, due to the inability to deliver activities through face-to-face contact with communities. ChildFund is also concerned about the health and safety risks for children participating in team sports. 

At the same time, evidence shows that children are feeling increasingly isolated. Many young people have lost access to their peer support networks and are worried about their own health and wellbeing.

Lockdown rules and school closures also mean there is an increased risk of children experiencing violence at home.

In response to the current global crisis, ChildFund’s Sport for Development team launched a new program to keep young people engaged and learning, and to support community recovery post COVID-19.

ChildFund Pass It Back coaches in Laos take part in Reconnect training, so that they can provide additional support to young people during the global health crisis.

Reconnect is a rugby and life skills curriculum, supported by DHL and the Australian Government, that helps children respond positively to some of the challenges they are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. It aims to support children and youth to:

  • manage their emotions and adopt positive behaviours;
  • establish positive peer support networks and;
  • set goals.

In August, 20 brand new coaches from Xieng Khouang Province in Laos, 20 took part in Reconnect training, learning how to deliver key life skills.

Implemented in partnership with the Lao Rugby Federation, these coaches will ensure children and young people have access to life skills learning through rugby during this incredibly challenging time in their lives.

Training was also rolled out in Vietnam with both new and veteran coaches and, in the Phillippines, coaches undertook training via video conferencing due to internal travel restrictions.

ChildFund has also undertaken a series of surveys with our players and coaches to understand how the pandemic is impacting the lives of young people.

The Reconnect program will help young people to overcome the many challenges that the pandemic is creating in their lives.

Already, we have discovered that four out of five players have experienced a negative impact on their daily lives as a result of COVID-19, beyond the immediate health risks.

Girls and young women are more likely to experience negative emotions in response to the pandemic in comparison to their male peers.

These findings will enable us to reach out to groups or individuals that may need additional support and better to adapt our work to support both response and recovery.