On August 12, 2018, The Bridge Leadership Foundation joined the United Nations and people all over the world to celebrate the 2018 International Youth Day, themed: Safe Spaces for Youth. This is a yearly event set up by the United Nations to celebrate youths around the world. The Foundation organized series of activities to celebrate young people around the world and advocated for enough safe spaces to be created for the youth.

Firstly, TBLF organized an online competition where young people were expected to upload a video online, telling the world what safe spaces meant to them and places they regarded as safe spaces. The participants were to tag the foundation on the posts, and the video with the best content would be selected as winner. The winner stood the chance of getting an internship opportunity at the office of the Speaker, Cross River State House of Assembly or an internship opportunity to learn video coverage, editing and production at a video tech company, Stormblast, in Cross River State.

In addition to this, TBLF was part of a youth conference at Transcorp Hotel, Calabar with Cross River State Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, CUSO International, Girls’ Power Initiative, and other notable NGOs in the state. The event was used to mark the 2018 IYD and discussions were focused on Safe Spaces for Youths. The event was widely attended and great contents were shared by invited speakers. Amongst the panelists was Mr. Achunine Uchenna, the Executive Secretary of The Bridge Leadership Foundation and a number of speakers from various distinguished organizations.

When asked what Safe Spaces meant to these panelists, Mr. Achunine defined safe spaces as “social and physical infrastructures, platforms, activities and even opportunities that exists, designed to help young people express themselves, get involved and effectively contribute to development, peace building and social cohesion”. The Director General, Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development, Dr. Betta Edu described safe spaces as beyond the physical environment, and could be economical, political and whatever youth friendly platform where they can access services. While the GPI said “safe spaces are places where individuals go and are not discriminated against or go through physical or emotional trauma”.

The Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade who was represented at the event by the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Asu Orkang pointed the attention of the youths to so many development and empowerment opportunities created by the state government as safe spaces for youth.

Mr. Achunine further highlighted the efforts of TBLF over the years in creating safe spaces for youth through the annual Career Day youth conference, which hosts over 5,000 youths from Cross River State and other neighbouring states; the Grooming Enterprise Leaders, Take the Lead and Emerging Leaders Fellowship programme as opportunities youth can key into to find safe spaces for themselves. He encouraged the youth to value and get involved in volunteering. According to him, volunteering adds up to years of experience that employers look out for. This motion was supported by other panelists who also encouraged youths to engage in volunteering as it helps build skills and knowledge about the field they are volunteering in.

Also, in the series of activities for IYD 2018, the Cross River Broadcasting Corporation (CRBC) hosted a team from TBLF: Uchenna Achunine, Executive Secretary and Funlola Ojo, Accounts/Administrative Manager on the Good Morning Cross River show on Friday, August 10, 2018, to educate the general public on what International Youth Day was all about and why youths need to be celebrated and supported. The discussion also touched on how the Foundation has been creating safe spaces for youth in the state since 2011.

On 12th of August, TBLF hosted Rotimi Olawale, Executuve Director of Youth Hub Africa, on a tweet chat at 4pm to sensitize the public on what safe spaces mean and reasons youths should be celebrated. The tweet chat lasted for two hours and it had participants who contributed to the discussion and as well retweeted.

The Foundation’s series of activities for IYD 2018 was wrapped up with a feature of TBLF team and beneficiaries of TBLF programmes on the Hit Drive Time show of Hit FM 95.9, a leading FM station in Cross River State on Monday, August 13, 2018. The team took time to educate people on what safe spaces for youth meant, why youths should lend their voices to ensuring they have safe spaces, why they should get involved, equip themselves with leadership skills, maximize opportunities around them and also how they can key into opportunities TBLF has to offer to make themselves better and have greater futures. The beneficiaries: Kebe Ikpi and Eno Essien shared how TBLF programmes helped in creating sustainable safe spaces for them.

The Bridge Leadership Foundation is a non-profit leadership and capacity development Foundation established in 2011 committed to raising generations of transformational leaders.

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