Dissolving Borders | An American-Peruvian Alliance of YMCAs

The Summit Area YMCA is far more than just what we have within our four walls and at our branches. With an expanding world, here at the Y we are constantly looking for new ways to cultivate global citizenship and reach out to those communities beyond our four walls – communities within our townships, counties, state, country and well beyond our national borders. We strongly believe that getting to know other communities will help us better understand our own diverse population within.

The YMCA’s international ties run deep within our organization and hold true to the original mission of caring and inclusiveness. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone in our community has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Today our South American population is one of our fastest growing population in the Summit Area. For this reason, our staff began a mutual collaboration with a South American YMCA. To begin, we took part in a series of in depth discussions with several YMCAs across South America and discovered one YMCA in Peru that was very similar to our Y in the Summit Area.

Like us, the Peru YMCA has a large fitness center, group exercise classes, after school enrichment and camp. We found out that that this Y also has a strong and very impressive teen program which we can learn from. In fact, our Teen Director Chris Miree has been involved in conversations with the Peru Teen Staff to understand more about their teen programs to best interpret them and improve our teen programs here in Summit.

The learning was mutual! Last April, the Peru Executive Staff traveled here to Summit to see how we ran our Y facility. They were specifically interested in our Healthy Living program which happens to be one of our three pillars (or areas of focus) among the USA Ys. They also wanted to know about our Kids Zone program and met with Kid Zone staff Carolina Lora and Ingrid Priego to gain greater insight on how we run our babysitting program.

Children in Berkeley Heights YMCA Childcare Sing Songs for our Peruvian YMCA guests.


Staff from the YMCA of Peru also attended our 2017 Annual Celebration, and surprised us with a wonderful handmade gift! 


Now it’s our turn to travel, learn and get inspired by our South American counterparts at the YMCA of Peru. We’re so excited! With our kids in childcare, we also made a handmade quilt for our Y family in Peru. 


Our President & CEO Paul Kieltyka said, “Summit Area Y is incredibly excited to make our first journey to the YMCA of Peru. We were delighted to host them in 2017, and are eager to not only share our YMCA best practices with them but to learn more about the Peruvian culture and YMCA values. We look to this trip as just the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial relationship between our two strong organizations.”

Our staff has been invited to speak on Membership Engagement, our Kid Zone and Afterschool Programs and meet their CEOs and Board of Directors. We will also be visiting Y camps throughout Peru as well as attending wellness classes.

We want to experience first-hand what it’s like to be in a country where you may not be fluent in the language and unfamiliar with the culture. We want to know what it feels like to enter a fitness class for the first time and not know the protocol. From this trip, we’re hoping to takeaway a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the Peruvian community and people and ultimately use that knowledge to enhance our programs back at home in Summit.

Please follow along with us on social media as we journey though Peru on June 2 – June 8 and share colorful pictures, stories and videos of our adventures!



Pam Halpin

Pam Halpin


Email: pam.halpin@thesay.org

Phone: (908) 273-3330 ext. 1134



To learn more about various upcoming events at the Summit Area YMCA, please visit www.thesay.org/calendar 

About the Summit Area YMCA 

The Summit Area YMCA is one of the area’s leading 501(c)3 charitable organizations. Founded in 1886, the Summit Area YMCA has a history steeped in working side-by-side with our neighbors to ensure that everyone, regardless of age, income and background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. Each year, we serve more than 10,000 individuals with our free and fee-based programs and services in an area spanning the communities of Berkeley Heights, New Providence, Millburn, Springfield, Short Hills, Summit, Gillette, and Stirling. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need. To strengthen your community and provide others with the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, make your tax-deductible donation today at www.thesay.org/give