From India to Spain, Cambodia, Ireland, Thailand, South Africa and Brazil, Generation Lockdown is a series featuring young people from 18 countries on six continents reacting to the initial ‘wave’ of the coronavirus.
A video series produced by Connor Kirwan and Toni Pyke
No-one could have predicted or planned for the historic changes that 2020 would unleash across the globe at the start of the year – an impact that remains a terrifying reality for many countries.
The introduction of the ‘coronavirus’ or Covid-19 to all but a small number of countries has devastated entire health systems and economies, has seen unemployment rates surge, businesses close, mortality rates spike, families separated, education halted, people confined to their homes, elevated levels of domestic violence, increased poverty, inequality, and much more yet to be fully realised.
After reports on 31 December 2019 of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan in the People’s Republic of China, the international dimension to the virus was officially recognised as a ‘pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation on the 11th March, 2020. As I write (8 September), the WHO reveal that there are 27,205,275 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 890,392 deaths globally, with warnings that ‘the worst is yet to come’.
Each country has and is, experiencing the pandemic in different ways and each has responded with diverse strategies for tackling the resulting health, economic and social implications. Many of these strategies have included various forms of lockdown; cocooning/shielding/self-isolating; social distancing; quarantining; etc. Some have been drastic, such as in India, Italy and Uganda for example, while others have involved minimal change, such as in Sweden.
With lockdowns ‘easing’ in recent weeks in some countries across the world, the impact of such strategies, particularly on young people’s mental health is being highlighted. In an article published in the Irish Times earlier this year, young people from the National Youth Council of Ireland and EU Youth Dialogue-affiliated Young Voices programme discussed their feelings about the virus, lockdown, their future and depression (see spunout.ie on how young people are coping in Ireland and their stories; the Guardian on the psychological and economic impacts). Despite the many negative experiences, joint research by Young Social Innovators and Amárach finds that nearly 70 percent of young people in the 16-19 years cohort in Ireland currently remain optimistic that society will improve for the better post the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Generation Lockdown series, we explore young people’s experiences across 18 countries on six continents during the initial ‘wave’ of the pandemic. The 8 videos in the series were recorded during the height of the pandemic, where many young people were under ‘lockdown’ in their homes and much about the pandemic and the impact of the virus was unknown.
Since then, many of these countries are beginning to slowly open up. However, some countries such as Spain, are experiencing a rapid rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 after reopening, as compared to Italy, once the ‘epicentre’ of the virus in Europe, who continue to experience lower levels of infection. Although, this is subject to change as evidence from China, Japan, Australia and Portugal (and many others) demonstrate.
The videos in the series represent the realities for young people across the world, the majority of who are/were in ‘lockdown’.
Most of the young people in the videos are living in urban areas, and report being negatively impacted by not being able to socialise with their friends or extended family and in particular being unable to go to school/college, which heightened fears and anxiety about their future. Some young people living temporarily in other countries highlight a sense of heightened fear of being the ‘outsider’, as social media stigma linked the pandemic as being imported by ‘foreigners’. Some mention the challenges of ‘e-learning’ and others talk of the political mismanagement of the crisis and the severe impact on those less fortunate than themselves. While some see a positive impact of the lockdown on the environment and its biodiversity and hope for change in future environmental policies.
Most young people want to go ‘back to normal’, although what this means in reality is ambiguous and uncertain, with some young people realising that ‘normal’ will or should, never again be the same. What is clear from the young people across the continents is the sense of isolation, uncertainty, lack of human interaction and desire for some semblance of normality and routine.
- The videos were compiled, edited and produced by 4th year secondary student Connor Kirwan.
- Tune in over the next fortnight for more videos in the series and accompanying teaching activities.