‘Unstoppable Together’: Reflecting on two years of youth-led action in response to Covid

Topic: YMCA-General

Date: 27 March 2023


Launched on 27 March 2023, the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM) final impact report, “Unstoppable Together: Celebrating 2 years of Youth-led Global Action”, highlights the reach and impact of the investment in young people leading community responses to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

Covid-induced disruptions to education, employment, health services and social support affected an estimated 1.2 billion young people. They have changed the future of an entire generation.

To address these challenges, the world’s largest youth empowerment organisations ‘ the ‘Big Six’ worked with the World Health Organization and the UN Foundation to set up the GYM to harness the surge of youth-led action, investing funds at a grassroots level and advocating for the role of young people in Covid-19 recovery and response efforts.

YMCA has been at the forefront of the Initiative. “Young people have consistently and courageously risen up to support one another and their communities”, said Carlos Sanvee, World YMCA Secretary General. “They have shown their resilience, adaptability and determination to lead change”.


The report, which includes YMCA and others’ case studies of global youth-led projects, highlights a series of recommendations for multinational agencies and institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to address and prioritise the needs of young people and future generations.

Full Report

During the Project Showcase in February, GYM highlighted projects from YMCA Mongolia and YMCA Sierra Leone. Click the links to watch the YouTube discussions around the work and impact of these projects. The newly released report also includes a look at the YMCA Scotland Makerspace Digital Learning Project. It created online and in-person spaces for young people to improve their digital literacy, socialise and reconnect with peer groups whom they had not seen in over a year.

Measuring the impact

To date, the GYM has:

  • Financed projects directly engaging nearly 600,000 young people in developing and implementing activities supporting over 3.63 million community beneficiaries.
  • Invested USD 5 million to support 471 youth-led projects in 72 countries and funded 169 national projects, across 125 countries, through the Big Six youth organisations.
  • Scaled-up interventions in four key thematic areas of focus:
  • Mental health. Young people tackled the mental and physical health challenges exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic, through training sessions, workshops, toolkits, recreational spaces, and access to professional support, to address stigma and discrimination, reaching over 440,000 people in their communities.
  • Gender inequality. The GYM has directly engaged over 320,000 people to overcome gender inequality and combat domestic and gender-based violence worsened by lockdowns.
  • Education and employment.Youth-led solutions have helped over 2.3 million people overcome education disruption and employability challenges caused by lockdowns through training, coaching, and providing access to key resources like books and digital devices to improve their digital literacy.
  • Protection and prevention. To curb the spread of the pandemic, young people became a critical part of the response and recovery efforts, reaching over 470,000 people, to promote Covid-19 protection and prevention measures, debunk myths, provide vital health information and mobilise their communities to adopt best practices to increase vaccine uptake.

“WHO is proud to support the Global Youth Mobilization to engage, empower and equip young people as a driving force in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“This unique initiative demonstrates the catalytic potential of a youth-led model for leadership, decision-making and localised solutions”, he added. “WHO remains committed to continuing to work with the Global Youth Mobilization, and we encourage other partners to join the next phase of the initiative and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

WHO Director-General

What’s next? GYM leaders said that GYM 1.0 has demonstrated that when young people mobilise, they can have a transformative impact on themselves, the people around them, and their communities. To continue activities beyond GYM 1.0, build a sustainable model and invest in and scale-up youth-led solutions, the Big Six are seeking funding and pro-bono resourcing to support GYM’s continuation.

GYM is seeking insight from young people to help design the Global Youth Mobilization Strategy 2.0, currently under development with the support of a Youth-Led Co-Design Lab. They have prepared a survey (available in 100+ languages) – all young people are encouraged to contribute. Access the survey here.