Onelife Initiative for Human Development, a youth-led and youth-focused non-governmental organisation, believes that youths in Nigeria deserve to consciously own and be given safe spaces as it is crucial to their evolution and will impact on the quality of their future.

Speaking at an event to mark the International Youth Day, which was tagged: ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’, ‘Sola Fagorusi, Acting Executive Director of the organisation, stated that “the theme is coming at a time when youths are becoming the centre of attention and a bride, especially in the political space.”

The event, which featured talks, question-and-answer session, fun activities and the unveiling of the organisation’s safe wall mural painting at the organisation’s Ibadan office, had Adesola Fanimokun from Nigerian Urban and Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) speak on ‘Safe Spaces in Reproductive Health.’

Fanimokun said: “Youths need to have safe spaces as far as their sexual and reproductive health is concerned. They need to have access to life skills and this includes making them comfortable to express themselves and not using the information against them later. This means giving them confidentiality and a listening ear.”

The representative of Oyo State Agency for Youth Development, Laolu Afolabi, emphasised that it is important youths get enfranchised by registering to vote and also collecting their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), as it is their core civic responsibility.

“One clear safe space for young people is the social media. Whatever it is you do today as a young person, make sure it has some form of online presence. Own a space online where you can influence people and people can see you,” Kayode Adebayo, founder of African Music Festival and Cultural Expo (AMFEST Expo) stated, while addressing youths at the event.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the mural paintings, designed by young people. The paintings were unveiled one after another by the three guests to the excitement of youths present. There were various conversations about the murals, and of note was the implication of vote buying, and the ongoing debate about whether Nigeria should adopt a safe abortion stance, given high incidences of unsafe abortion following unintended pregnancies in the country.

Attendees responded with applause when Fagorusi thanked staff and volunteers for their online votes and announced that the organisation was announced as one of the 20 winners of the Guaranty Trust Bank #SimpleChangeBigImpact Challenge.

Onelife Initiative will provide comprehensive sexuality education and hearing aids to young people in two schools for the hard of hearing and deaf.

Since 2000, August 12 has been set aside as the International Youth Day. It is recognised as a day to applaud young men and women, who are partnering the drive for change, and also draw attention to issues affecting youths.

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