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‘Youth Against Leprosy’ aims to curtail leprosy stigma

Feb 03, 2020

‘Youth Against Leprosy’ is a movement for the youth of India to fight stigma against Leprosy.

New Delhi: Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation (S-ILF) organized ‘Youth Against Leprosy’, a National Youth Festival to raise awareness about leprosy amongst the younger generation.

The Youth Festival was organized at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi. This is the third Youth Festival following the two regional Youth Festivals held in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra recently.

The function was a finale of all participating colleges from all over India that undertook the program and training. The festival witnessed widespread participation of youth that engaged in creative activities to make the event a success.

S-ILF’s annual Youth Festival provides a platform for young people from non-leprosy backgrounds (students from different colleges / universities) to mingle and interact with youth from leprosy background. These interactions are aimed to bust myths and create social bridges among college youth regarding leprosy. Youth Festival helps to bridge the “us versus them” divide. The students are connected as a community through the social media campaign named #CreatingHope.

The participating youth have been enrolled and trained by S-ILF under its Education, Advocacy and Awareness programs. Youth are the forerunners of change and the encouraging number of participants today at the festival gives hope that as a country we are united and take the onus of fighting against the stigma associated with Leprosy.

On the occasion, Tarun Das, Chairman, Sasakawa- India leprosy Foundation said, “Integration of youth from the leprosy colonies with youth from outside the colonies is an essential part of S-ILF activities to eradicate stigma and discrimination. The Youth Festivals organized have served a very useful purpose in achieving this objective.”

Addressing the event Dr. Vineeta Shanker, Executive Director Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation said, “It is very unfortunate that the youth of India has little or no knowledge around the myths associated with leprosy which results in stigma and discrimination against those affected & their families,” she said.

“The very little knowledge that they gain is often vague and endorses the stigma against the disease. At the foundation we are committed to sensitize the youth so that they can spread the word and contribute towards the elimination of stigma leading to a more inclusive and empathetic society,” Vineeta added.

“We hope to reach out maximum number of Youth every year through Sasakawa-India Leprosy Foundation’s new initiative The Youth Festival at both regional and national level. As of now we at S-ILF have sensitized 12000 plus students from colleges & schools & reached out to more than 17 lakh youth through our Awareness Sessions & Youth Festivals,” Vineeta said.

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