July 10, 2018
Today we started the day off bright and early with a 7am breakfast meeting with the Peru Coalition. Having started a partnership with the YMCA of Peru, the coalition was to meet and give updates on their current states of work and we shared our experience in our recent Peru trip in June along with takeaways and future plans we would like to work on with the YMCA of Peru.
Following Devotions, we engaged in our first group work session with our small groups. Folks in our group were from Japan, Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Zambia, Canada, England and Wales, Malaysia, Kenya, Norway, Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, and more. (I’m not sure if I got everybody but that’s the gist of it!)
In any event, a common issue that has arisen our conversations about youth injustice revolves around lack of employment opportunities. We discussed different methods of empowering them, and how education and a proper support system are imperative to ensuring their success. Eckhard from YMCA of Germany told us that their Y organization is mostly focused on youth clubs and programs run by volunteers with very few staff. The YMCA of Germany provides summer camps, global leadership exchange programs and trainings for youth in order to build social competencies and experiences for a more enriching life. Some such global leadership programs involve partnerships with YMCA of Ghana as well as YMCA of Peru where German youth are sent to these countries to experience a different culture and work in the system of that country’s YMCA for a certain period of time.
Another interesting program we learned about today was the Ten Sing program that started in Norway. Ten means “teen” in English. It is an international youth program that focuses on getting young people to express themselves through the creative performing arts. I hope that we can bring these kinds of innovative ideas back to the Summit Area YMCA to help encourage these kinds of programs with our youth.
Following coffee and tea time, we attended the YMCA One Million Voices v.2 presentation by Marek Rymsza. THE OMV2 presentation is the preliminary results of the second round of research of OMV1. This research provides a quantitative view of the collective voice of young people today and their concerns, which involved employment, health, civic engagement and environment.
Next on the agenda was a speech presentation by Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, a human rights, social justice and leadership activist. She spoke of the 5 injustices of Youth; Poverty, Climate and Ecological Justice, Conflict and Violence, Health and Wellbeing, and Sexual Violence and Exploitation of Young Girls and Women. We also witnessed a historical moment during the Safe Space Report, presented by Executive Committee that is made up of a number of countries including the USA to ensure that social inclusion and non-discrimination is a part of operations and practice in the YMCA. It is also the next step towards telling the world that while the YMCA was created as a “Christian Men’s Association”, that we have grown and are moving with the times in order to best serve our communities and the world around us with compassion and acceptance for all.
So much has happened so far and there’s only more to come, jam packed into every single day of this conference. It is definitely tiring, but seeing all the good that the YMCA is doing as well as all the positive energy and working together to truly make a difference in all spaces that matter, the “tiredness” doesn’t even matter. I’m happy to be here and be a part of this great movement.
Jenny and Emily