Plan International Nigeria has called for stakeholders’ commitment to invest in the youth to create positive change in the country.

The Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, Charles Usie made the call at the Adolescent and Youth Conference on Wellbeing Development and Health, in Abuja on Wednesday.

Usie said there was need for young people to shape their destinies, by offering them a platform for dialogue, collaboration, and the creation of a concrete roadmap for adolescent well-being, health, and development.

“For too long, the needs and aspirations of adolescents and young people haven’t been fully heard. This conference aims to change that. It’s your voices, your experiences, your dreams that will guide the way.

“This is not just a conference; it’s a catalyst for change. It’s a space where young minds can meet established leaders, where ideas can spark action, and where the seeds of a more inclusive and empowered future can be sown.

“I appeal to us to let us embrace this opportunity with open hearts and minds. Let the energy of this exceptional generation fill this room and propel us forward,” Usie said.

He said together, a Nigeria where every young person thrives, their well-being nurtured, their health protected, and their voices amplified, can be created.

The Minister of State for Education, Dr Yusuf Sununu called for collective responsibility to nurture the aspirations of the next generation of youths in shaping their potentials.

Sununu, represented by his Special Adviser, Technical, Dr Claris Ujam, said that prioritising the health and wellbeing during the adolescence period laid the foundation for a fulfilling and successful life.

“We know that young people have enormous potential to shape the future of their countries when given the right opportunities and support.

“Without the active participation of young people, we will not be successful in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and other developmental strides.

“For this reason, the Nigerian government is committed to empowering young people and giving them the chance to have their voices heard, on issues that affect their wellbeing and development,” he said.

The minister, who acknowledged that the pressure of academic performance, social media and peer relationships took a toll on adolescent wellbeing, leading to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, hence the need to priortise them.

“The Federal Ministry of Education is fully aware of these challenges and collaborates with partners to implement various school health initiatives that promote holistic health awareness on emerging health issues,” he added.

Also, the Minister of State for Youths, Ayodele Olawande urged the youths to desist from following trends but ensure they make impact that would lead to the overall development of the country.

He cautioned the youths about negative utterances against the country saying “whatever you say comes back to you”.

In the same vein, the National Project Officer, Education for Health and Wellbeing of UNESCO, Oladeji Adeyemi, pledged the commitment of UNESCO to continue its collaboration with relevant agencies in bringing hope to the citizens. (NAN)

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