The 2022 International Youth Day celebration with the theme “Intergenerational Solidarity-Creating a World for all Ages” was held on the 12th day of August 2022 at the University of Calabar International Conference Centre, Calabar. The event featured street dance, youth village exhibition, panel discussions, art/entertainment, free health services, maiden scholarship fundraising, awards/recognition of young trailblazers in community and human development, music and fanfare. The event planning was facilitated by young people from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and coordinated by the University of Calabar team. A total of 57 CSOs and two state institutions participated in the event. International Development Partners who supported and participated in the event include UNFPA, UNICEF, AIDS Healthcare Foundation Nigeria, and the Centre for Clinical Care and Clinical Research (CCCRN). The 13 Brigade Nigeria Army-Akim Barracks, Cross River State Government through the Ministry of Health (Adolescent and Young People Desk Office), the State Agency for the Control of AIDS and the Ministry of Youth and Skill Acquisition (represented by the State Chairman of the Nigerian Youth Council) provided every necessary support.

In her opening address, the Vice Chancellor Professor Florence Obi who was ably represented by Professor Michael Okom, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Administration, University of Calabar expressed satisfaction with the turnout, the resilience of young people in Nigeria and their talents, adding that research has shown that youths are driving the process of development in many developed and developing countries of the world. She stated that neglecting the youths can lead to a total collapse of the country and welcomed all participants while encouraging them to learn about the cause of the event. The keynote speaker and the UNAIDS Country Community Mobilization and Networking Adviser Mr Gabriel Undelikwo echoed the valuable contributions of youths in nation building and expressed the hope and opportunities that come with empowering youths and providing the enabling environment for their growth and development. He emphasized that young people represent hope, determination and the future. He acknowledged that the event will further help to amplify Youth voices on key issues confronting them. He cited several examples of breakthrough accomplishments by the youth among which is the just concluded World Common Wealth Games, where young people, specifically those from Nigeria showcased their productivity through sport by winning several gold medals, thus making Nigeria and Africa proud. 

The Cross River State Young Trail Blazer Award sponsored by UNICEF was presented to five youths and six youth serving CSOs while all CSOs and participants were enjoined to support the University fundraising drive for indigent students’ scholarships. One donor pledge of One Hundred Thousand Naira (NGN100,000) only was recorded while others got copies of the fundraising letters.  Nine panellists drawn from the development, health, ICT, entrepreneurship, security, advocacy, legal and political sectors provided insight into all aspects of youth development and answered all questions from the participating youths satisfactorily. The Youth Village facilitated the provision of health services that included screening for diabetes, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, malaria and COVID-19 vaccination. 

The majority of participants who completed the activity evaluation survey strongly agreed that the event was informative and was conducted in the right place. Key lessons taken by the participants are documented in the evaluation report and indicate that the event was impactful. Recommendations to make the event better next year bothered around publicizing the event to get more youth benefit from the activity, provisions for T-shirts, keeping to time (time management), involving more students, making the hall accessible and disability friendly, more refreshments and transport to pick-up youths. The event recorded a total of 962 participants (Male = 420, Females =542).