25 June 2020

The University of East London and partners have launched a series of animations in ZambiaSierra Leone and Rwanda aimed at raising awareness on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The animations are part of a participatory research project, 'Kick Out COVID-19', which is founded by Zambian charity Sport in Action and supported by the University of East London's Institute for Health and Human Development (IHHD) and RIX Research and Media, among others.

The project is funded by the UK government's Global Challenge Research Fund, which supports cutting-edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries.

The animations, which have been translated into different languages and feature a University of East London student doing the voice-over, are being used as part of public health campaigns, helping to raise awareness in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

However, the animations are just one part of a larger project which works to engage, encourage and enable disabled and/or disadvantaged children and young people to develop their potential, and to help their communities better support them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak the team at UEL have been working tirelessly with our partners to provide washable masks, hand soap, food parcels and public health resources to help inform and protect disadvantaged and vulnerable youth living in Zambia and Sierra Leone  from contracting and passing on COVID-19.

"This Global Research Challenge Fund project also considers the livelihoods of disabled young people after lockdown. By mobilising UEL's tried and tested youth empowerment and community development tools we will help realise, in part, the aspirations of the 7th National Development Strategy - Zambia's blueprint for development for the next five years. Our goal is to save lives and build human capacity in young people at the margins of Zambia society,"

Darren Sharpe, UEL senior research fellow, said.

The Kick Out COVID-19 movement has already benefited over 5,000 vulnerable children, young people and their families by providing PPE (personal protective equipment) and food parcels.

Dr Clement Chileshe, president and founder of Sport in Action, said, "COVID-19 is a call for us to come together to show love and support for the most vulnerable. 

"Most of the young athletes and their families we work with at Sport In Action and Special Olympics Zambia struggle to put the required three meals per day on the table. They struggle for most basic needs, hence they are usually in a cycle of distress.

"Most of the families are headed by narrowly educated women and or men whose source of their hard-earned little income has been cut off by COVID-19 effects. Their vulnerability has therefore been increased leaving them inept to the COVID-19 war. They are not able to afford the basic necessities including handwashing soaps, face masks, food and others.

"We have initiated a unified effort to provide opportunities to make small but hearty contributions to many children who will be highly vulnerable during this challenging period."

Verity Brown, pro-vice chancellor (impact and innovation) at the University of East London, said, "This project is a perfect example of how our research in east London is having an impact globally. In these unprecedented times and in the fight against COVID, it has never been more important to ensure our research has real world impact on the lives of people."

Mayamba Sitali Joseph, lecturer and researcher at Kwame Nkrumah University, said, "The research partnership with the University of East London is an excellent undertaking that has helped Kwame Nkrumah University to move out of its walls and experience the real socio-economic effects of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable groups of the Zambian society, the children living with disabilities and the young people.

"Hundreds of children and young people have been helped through this important project in alleviating the negative impact of COVID-19."

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