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forgen"Good news!"... we no longer hear that phrase as often as we would want to. I have switched off my TV set and have been avoiding the news because of the disgust I feel for the events around me in my world. Nations are threatening others with nuclear weapons, while others are too greedy to admit that the reason they send men to fight is for their own interests. A man murdered his wife, another killed his two sons but failed to kill himself. Families are breaking apart, the government system is tainted with arrogance and corruption. I hear relatives are given senior positions in government and the governments of the day have continuous in-house party power struggles.

Depression is the order of the day now. The pain is acute. At night, terror grips us and during the day the arrows of death follow us.

Even in the dark, there is still good news, but we have been given more than that. Forgiveness of our sins. Mine and your sins all forgotten. Remember that day when you sinned and wished you could turn back the hand of time, the scar you received because of the wrong decision you made. Those enemies that surround you because of your own dishonesty? Imagine all that being erased. What ease and comfort that brings. A comfort that goes beyond this world.

You see such is the news that is here and available to all who will turn off the noise of this world and frequently tune in to the heavens. Yes, there are many other speakers who claim they have the solutions. Never-ending televised talk shows seem to dissect the problems of man as if to sort them out while counselors come up with cleverly designed words on how to easily solve problems but all this is in vain.

Here is milk that you can buy without money. Here, is life that you can attain without working for it. Here’s grace that calls you to just come the way you are. Here’s a burden which is light. There is hope in this decaying world. Though the media paints negativity and desperation as if they were no God I will be encouraged that there is one who cares for me. One who knows my name and not an identity by a computer number. One who feels my pain and hunger unlike today’s politicians. One who carries away my shame and anguish.

Mine is hope that cannot be corrupted. It is secure because the foundation is Christ my Lord. I still want to believe that God listens to the cry of that widow in Missisi compound- the slam and dump of Lusaka city. That young boy, sleeping close to a fire this night. That girl who tonight just got defiled by her own uncle. That girl living under guilt because she aborted her child, unready to bear the ridicule of her family, church and community. What about that wife who has just been infected by HIV/AIDS this evening, by her unfaithful husband? What about that young girl right now who is preparing to sell her body to support her family back home?

There is hope, Jehovah is in control and not even the gates of Hades can prevail. 

“I sing because am happy I sing because am free, his eyes on the sparrow and he is watching over me.. tell me why should I worry? Why should I worry? Cause he watches over me."

By Henry Chibutu, Zambia YMCA

Saturday, 19 April 2014 10:03
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identityWho are you? Really... who are you? Are you able to immediately and confidently state who you are, what you stand for and what your mission in life is?

Last Sunday, my pastor had us all ask ourselves this question and then ponder on what it means, especially behind closed doors when no-one is watching. This got me thinking a lot about youth identity and how youth define their collective and individual model of the world. By nature youth see themselves apart from children and adults as they grapple with finding their identity, and define themselves through their language, clothes, music and so forth. And within the youth culture, are more defined subcultures.

Technology now has the effect of youth also being able to create virtual identities, where wearing your heart on your sleeve now takes on epic proportions and we can track on facebook a young person falling in and out of love between breakfast and lunch. Importantly though it provides youth with the space to give their opinions on issues that are important to them. And it gives youth social meaning with mobile phones important not only as a communication tools but as a social tool as youth determine their position amongst their peer group. This is the Y generation where technology is an essential part of their makeup as young people.

I asked a teenager to answer: who are you? And his immediate response was: “A troubled soul looking for a cause. I don’t know who I am.” With so much more access to information than ever before, this young man of the immediate, now generation is searching… grappling to find something to believe in, battling to believe in himself.

Then I asked one of our S2C Ambassadors to answer the same question: who are you? And this was her immediate response: “I am an S2C Ambassador, a YMCA volunteer, a student studying law… a young leader and a person who believes in my potential in driving positive change around me.”

I think this goes to the heart of our leadership initiative of the African YMCAs. The S2C Change Model is about belief – belief in self and belief that change is possible. It is about engaging young people in not only a changed mindset, but also about the means to transform other young people. And it is about these young people acting on their belief. They act individually and they act collectively.

It’s a good exercise to regularly check-in with ourselves and ask ‘who am I?’ to ensure our moral compass is pointing us in the direction where our life counts for something worthwhile. So ask yourself now: Who am I?

By Gil Harper, International and Corporate Affairs, AAYMCA

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wa-cameroon2A recent breakthrough with Cameroon YMCA now sees us celebrating the journey of their entry into the Africa Alliance fold. Let me tell you a bit of the history first… For almost 20 years, the Cameroon YMCA has been in turmoil due to its historic development within the Evangelic Church of Cameroon (EEC) and internal crises that arose from some of the members attempting to remove the YMCA from a single church and create the movement outside the church. At times there were 3 factions fighting each other and every four years the stronger faction would register with the World Council as a way of reinforcing their supremacy and right to be affiliated to the movement at the African level.

We have had a situation where we have two registered YMCAs in Cameroun: Alliance Nationale des UCJG and YMCA Cameroon. We however have not affiliated with any of them due to our principle of having only one National YMCA per country. It should be noted that there were several mediation initiatives by past presidents of the AAYMCA and Y’s Men in Cameroon but the efforts failed to bring all the different factions together.

As the Alliance Nationale des UJCG, the “Church YMCA”, had previously requested affiliation to the World Alliance, it was time to visit and investigate options. And so I consulted all three factions about the visit and two responded: The Alliance des UCJG and the YMCA Cameroon. I consulted with the Ys Men leaders, who initiated the mediation, and had discussions with the top leaders of the EEC.

The entire mission went extremely well. I met all actors, talked to two past presidents of the YMCA and the mediators. I also spoke to the leaders of the Evangelical Church. I visited programmes, met with the youth and had strategic discussions regarding the future of the YMCA in Cameroon. My findings were:

1. There are currently only two groups/faction in existence; the third group is no longer operational and all attempts to reach them were unfruitful.
2. The group that is well organised, strong and fulfils most of the international YMCA standards is the Alliance of UCJG. Their mobilisation of youth is outstanding. I discovered a dimension of a “movement” that is lost in many of the YMCAs; meeting those youth took me 35 years back where a vibrant youth group, and not projects, is at the heart of the YMCA.
3. The Alliance des UCJG is still perceived as the Church YMCA. 99 per cent of the members are from the same church. Its structure is derived from the church structure. However, some changes have been introduced to distance it from the EEC.
4. The leadership of the Alliance is centred around the personality and charisma of Dr. Wandji but all the leaders of the regions and subcommittees were present and I received calls from many youth who were not able to attend the meeting. It was really an “army” of young people eager to understand why they have been side-lined by the international structures.
5. The YMCA Cameroon is a smaller group focusing on projects in health, gender awareness and entrepreneurship. Their reach is mainly in the area of Yaoundé.
6. YMCA Cameroon is perceived as a club by some and others see it as a business which the leaders have camouflaged as the YMCA.
7. The position of the church is ambiguous on the autonomy of the YMCA. At the top they understand the nature of the YMCA and past Synod of the church acknowledged the special character of the YMCA and allowed it to be open to the international YMCA, but on the ground local groups operate only within the confines of the church.
8. Both camps and leaders belong to the same church and only the reach of the YMCA Cameroon is open to non-church members. Youth are welcome regardless of their religious background.
9. Neither group/faction acknowledges the other.
10. The mediators after the failure of many of their attempts to bring the two camps together concluded that the Alliance is the more legitimate group.

At the end of the third day of my visit I was torn between two positions; (1) follow the mediators or (2) give more time to both camps to find a way of coming together?

At the Joint meeting which was attended by about 50 people including all the influential leaders, past presidents and Y’S Men representatives, I was inspired to take a different direction. I introduced the change of the YMCA in Africa since 2007 and the changes at world level since 2011. I exposed them to the criteria of being a healthy YMCA today and asked them to break into small groups to ponder the question; “whether or not the YMCA in Cameroon is still willing to join the international family”. In case their answer was an affirmative, they should come up with a proposal on the changes they need to make, the positive aspects that they can retain and new elements to introduce to actualise their resolve.

The results of the groups work and the plenary discussion was a real surprise to all of us! They decided to migrate to a new YMCA based on the international standards.

While we were discussing the implications of this transformation, I received a letter from the President of the Evangelical Church, stating that the Church recognised the international standards of the YMCA, and that the YMCA in Cameroon should comply to those standards. The EEC wished to establish a partnership with the YMCA for the promotion of youth in the country.

It sounded like a day of miracles. This had been the dream of many a leaders over the past 20 years in their mediation efforts. Emotions were high in the room. The two camps agreed to join their effort toward building the new structure, and sub-committees were established to this end.

I gave the commitment of both myself and the AAYMCA to journey together with them in establishing this new Cameroon YMCA – a YMCA that will join the AAYMCA and work together with other African YMCAs for youth empowerment in the continent.

By Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary AAYMCA

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wa-koreaI recently attended the 100 years celebration of the National Council of YMCAs of Korea and the experience was indeed a worthwhile one. Koreans spared no effort in recognising the participation of Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA) in the celebrations which were also attended by all the top national YMCA movements in the Asia & Pacific region. The YMCA leadership of Korea was full of praise and appreciation for our participation. At the gala dinner I joined many others to present memorabilia in commemoration of the anniversary.

They arranged for me to visit Daejeon YMCA. Daejeon, according to Mr Nam BooWon, is the 4th city of South Korea. The City of Daejeon has a more relaxed and calmer atmosphere than Seoul, the capital. The YMCA centre has, among other programmes, a day-care centre for children from age 3 to 5 years and runs swimming classes for children.

What was striking is the recognition and respect given to the YMCA by the Local Government Authority of Daejeon. This is evident in two ways:
1. The YMCA has been entrusted with the responsibility of managing the City's youth centre - a magnificent structure with modern facilities including an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a gym (still being equipped), a basket ball court, rooms and halls for other activities; and
2. The YMCA receives annual subvention from the Local Authority's budget.

I was very well taken care of by the Daejeon YMCA. I was given a welcome lunch by top executives of the Y's Mens Club of Daejeon led by Mr Kwang-Hwy, Cho (Korea Area President) and also a dinner sponsored solely by the Area President. I was accommodated in a 5-star hotel - Hotel Riviera, Daejeon. Mr Lee Chung-Jae, the Senior Executive Director for Planning & Cooperation of NCYK, travelled all the way from Seoul to Daejeon to organise my trip back from Daejeon to the Incheon Airport.

The decision for the AAYMCA to respond positively to the invitation to participate in the celebrations was a very good one as it'll help forge a closer collaboration between African YMCAs and Korean YMCAs.

By James Ekow Rhule, Executive Committee President of the Africa Alliance of YMCA

Saturday, 19 April 2014 09:53
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nigeriaNigeria is not winning in the battle against Boko Haram, but neither are the Islamist militants. The Abuja bombing is more a sign of the group's decline than ascendency.

At approximately 06:45 on the morning of 14 April, an explosion ripped through the Nyanya Motor Park in the bustling city of Abuja. The blast, which triggered secondary explosions as nearby vehicles were engulfed in flames, occurred as scores of commuters were readying themselves for their daily commute into the centre of the Nigerian capital. By the time the smoke had settled and the sounds of screams were displaced by those of sirens, in excess of 70 people had been killed and scores others wounded in the deadliest attack of this nature to ever occur in the city.

While there have been no immediate claims of responsibility, suspicion has fallen on the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Since its formation in 2002, Boko Haram has waged an armed insurgency against the Nigerian government which has left an estimated 5,000 people dead and thousands more displaced. According to Amnesty International, 1,500 of these deaths have occurred since the beginning of 2014, marking a recent upsurge in attacks both in frequency and brutality. Reports of civilian massacres attributed to Boko Haram have become a near daily occurrence in Nigeria's north-east which has long served as the group's operational stronghold.

The increase in violence has many believing that the Nigerian government is losing the battle against Boko Haram. Moreover, incidents such as the 14 April attack in Abuja raise concerns that the Islamist group could be expanding its campaign to areas outside its traditional areas of operation, potentially placing major cities at sustained risk.

In assessing the credence of such concerns, however, it should be noted that the attack at the Nyanya Motor Park was not the first Boko Haram attack in Abuja. On 16 June 2011, a suicide bomber breached the perimeter of Nigeria's police headquarters (Louis Edet house) in what was likely an attempt to assassinate then Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim. In a telephone interview conducted with a Nigerian newspaper, Boko Haram spokesman Abu Zaid claimed responsibility for the attack which killed one police officer and left several others wounded.

For the full article: 

Source: Think Africa Press

Saturday, 19 April 2014 09:51
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africa philanthropyAn estimated US$7 billion is given away every year by Africa’s philanthrocapitalists – at least the ones we know about. These are the men (sadly no women yet on this list) providing home-grown solutions to local needs.

Francois van Niekerk, South Africa - The founder of Mertech Group gave 70 percent of his equity (valued at $170 million) to his Mergon Foundation, which funds education, health and skills-building initiatives.

Allan Gray, South Africa - The owner of Allan Gray investment management firm, Gray gave his Allan Gray Orbis Foundation $150 million. The foundation gives high school scholarships and supports other causes.

Theophilus Danjuma, Nigeria - The chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum broke Nigerian philanthropic records when he gave $100-million to set up the TY Danjuma Foundation, a grant-making organization that partners with NGOs in education, health, policy and poverty-related fields.

Donald Gordon, South Africa - The real estate and insurance billionaire founded the Donald Gordon Foundation which has given an estimated $50 million in donations to develop higher educational facilities and the arts in the UK.

Aliko Dangote, Nigeria - The president of the Dangote Group has recently entered the field of philanthropy and has already made significant contributions totalling $35 million. He has contributed to flood relief, an NGO developing low-cost housing and universities in Nigeria, and also gave $500,000 for victims of a munitions blast in Brazzaville, Congo in 2012.

Mark Shuttleworth, South Africa - After selling his digital security company for $575 million, Shuttleworth spent $20 million on developing free open source software, Ubuntu, and another $20 million - through the Shuttleworth Foundation - on funding the projects of individuals trying to change society.

Jim Ovia, Nigeria - The founder of Zenith Bank gave $6.3 million to the flood relief effort in Nigeria in 2012. Through his Youth Empowerment and ICT Foundation, he has given much to get youth interested in ICT. He gave $320,000 to help 10 young Nigerian entrepreneurs establish their technology businesses.

Strive Masiyiwa, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe’s richest man and the founder of Econet Wireless, Masiyiwa has spread his philanthropic work to several African countries, including Zimbabwe. He established a $6.4 million trust in 2012 to pay for the education of 40 students. He also supports organizations that help orphans in Zimbabwe.

Tony Elumelu, Nigeria - Elumelo, chairman of Heirs Holdings, gave $6.3 million to flood relief in Nigeria in 2012. His Tony Elumelu Foundation gives entrepreneurial training to young Africans.

Arthur Eze, Nigeria - The elusive oil magnate donated $6.3 million to flood relief in Nigeria. He also gives large amounts towards higher education.

Other noteworthy philanthropists include: Mike Adenuga and Hakeem Belo-Osagie from Nigeria; Manu Chandaria and Naushad Merali from Kenya; Ashish Thakkar from Uganda; the Sawiris family from Egypt; and Patrice Motsepe, Nicky Oppenheimer, Raymond Ackerman, Tokyo Sexwale, and Cyril Ramaphosa from South Africa.

Sudanese-born British telecommunications billionaire Mo Ibrahim has been dubbed the most powerful black man in the UK as well as the “Bill Gates of Africa” for his philanthropic efforts on the continent. He has signed the Giving Pledge to hand over half his wealth and has offered a prize of $5 million over 10 years, and a further $200,000 for life, to African leaders who excel. Motsepe is the first African-based businessman to have signed the pledge.

Source: Irin

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can world_end_povertyThe slogan “make poverty history” has been used by development pundits and pop star philanthropists for years. Now, in a bid to turn words into deeds, it is being discussed as a universal global target to be met within a generation.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight poverty-reduction targets that were signed during a world summit in 2000, will be retired next year. Diplomats, aid experts and UN officials are currently negotiating the 15-year objectives that will replace them in 2016.

Discussions are ongoing, but they are likely to be called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feature a dozen-or-so targets. The headline goal is likely to be the end of extreme poverty and having nobody living on less than US$1.25 a day by 2030.

The new goals will not be finalized until September 2015, but the framework is already agreed. Proposed goals include raising the quality of schools for all children and steps towards providing universal health care to the world’s 7 billion people.

More controversial planned targets include making governments less corrupt, halting climate change, streamlining immigration systems and limiting how much the richest people in any society can earn as compared to the poorest.

Gina Lucarelli, a policy expert for the UN Development Programme, described a game-changing debate that - at least on paper - purports to realize the long-stated goal of an equitable and sustainable planet.

“The diplomats want it to be measurable and ambitious, they want to be the generation of negotiators who broke through with something transformative,” she said. “It’s not business as usual. We have the resources. We have the expertise. We can really change things.”

While few development economists debunk the MDGs, opinions are mixed over the effectiveness of targets agreed upon in New York in changing realities on the ground in the neediest parts of Africa, Asia and South America.

This is partly because some MDGs will succeed by the end of 2015 and others will not. The goal of halving the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day saw rapid progress and was met five years ahead of schedule.

Other targets, such as enrolling all girls and boys in primary schools or slashing by three quarters the number of women who die in childbirth, have achieved partial success but will remain unfulfilled by next year’s deadline.

Importance of targets overstated?

Another reason for caution is the lack of clarity over whether UN goals caused the gains. Many analysts agree that advances against poverty were a by-product of double-digit growth in the populous emerging markets of China and India.

“We can massively overstate the importance of targets,” said Claire Melamed, from the UK-based Overseas Development Institute. “At best, they tweak at the margins. The main driver in a country is not UN targets. From China to Thailand and Kenya, governments are more concerned by their internal political dynamics.”

There are other criticisms of the MDGs: they are aspirational aims and not legally-binding commitments; they were weak on climate change and on making rich countries help the developing world via trade, debt relief and investment.

Aid workers in the field say the MDGs can be misleading. Why count the percentage of children enrolled in primary schools when there are no teachers in classrooms? Others question the value of shared metrics for such disparate countries as Bolivia, Botswana and Belarus.

But structural problems and missed targets have not consigned the MDGs to the dustbin of history. Governments are debating a successor deal. Talks begin in earnest next year. As Melamed says: “Lots of UN agreements wither and die. This one didn’t.”

Amina Mohammed is the special adviser on post-2015 Development Planning for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. For her, the MDGs served to create a brand identity for the development agenda that did not exist before.

“The MDGs were the first time we cannibalized these platforms - health for all, education for all - and brought them together,” she said. “It provided momentum. We brought the minimum ask and said: ‘We should at least be able to do this’. Then we realized how difficult it was to do.”

An Oxfam report, How Can a Post-2015 Agreement Drive Real Change?, points to MDG successes: setting global norms on such issues as women’s rights; giving activists a campaign tool and nudging governments into action.

Annual reports and league tables act as both carrot and stick for minsters of health, education and transport, compelling them to monitor progress across national borders and ensure they are keeping up with the neighbours.

“Fashions, fads and politicians come and go,” said Alex Evans, from New York University’s Center on International Cooperation. “The MDGs have stood the test of time and created a resonant and long-lasting storyline on global development.”

Danger of slipping backwards

Devising new goals has been a leviathan scheme, pulling together a survey of some 2 million people and outcomes from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development and a 27-member panel of world leaders and luminaries.

Some analysts are already concerned that the target of ending extreme poverty by 2030 is a major overreach. Halving the number of people living on less than $1.25 was “low-hanging fruit”, added Evans. The remainder will be much harder.

He warned that the “breakout generation” of people who recently escaped poverty and live on between $2-13 a day lead such vulnerable lives that gains made over recent decades could easily be rolled back.

“Growth rates in emerging economies are slowing down and infrastructure in mega-cities is really creaking. These people are in poorly-paid work. They are super-exposed to rising prices of food and energy,” he said.

Flawed model?

Danny Burns, from the UK-based Institute of Development Studies, says the remainder of the world’s poorest are often handicapped, LGBT (lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual), elderly or from an indigenous, religious or ethnic group that is more likely to be marginalized by its government than a beneficiary.

He worked on a study from 29 countries, called Work With Us: How People and Organisations Can Catalyse Sustainable Change. It found that badly planned development projects often push the most impoverished even further to the margins of society.

Burns describes a flaw in the architecture of the SDGs: that the current model of economic growth does not trickle-down to the poorest. Instead, it enriches elites and dooms the poorest to perpetual poverty.

“On one hand, there’s a narrative of ‘leaving nobody behind’. On the other is a narrative of growth and infrastructural development, much of which is causing greater inequality and pushing the poorest to the margins,” he said.

“From land grabs to private companies harming the environment with big economic schemes that push people from their homes, logging projects that force people to the cities - all of these things notionally benefit the economy but don’t benefit the poorest.”

Equality reduction goal

UN diplomats have proposed an inequality-reduction SDG to tackle this. The most popular idea uses the Palma ratio, which seeks to balance the income of the richest 10 percent and the poorest 40 percent of any population.

A key feature of the SDGs is universality, bringing rich-world economies into the scheme. The prospect of wealthy nations agreeing to UN inequality-reduction targets is problematic. They are also likely to oppose liberalizing immigration rules, despite the potential windfall this could bring migrants from poor countries.

But the biggest challenge lies in the switch from “development” to “sustainability” goals. The UN-agreed aid flows of 0.7 percent of rich country wealth amounts to about $130 billion a year - a drop in the ocean of the global economy.

The cash required for sustainability is of a different magnitude. The International Energy Agency estimates that limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius will cost $1 trillion each year until 2030 - a figure to make policymakers balk.

Evans points to $150 trillion that is sloshing around the global economy and seeks ways to “de-risk” developing world economies, open up trade and investment flows and “realign the private sector” to deliver poverty-reduction.

“With these sums of money you don’t have to bend the curve that much to achieve enormous impact on the ground in the area of sustainability. But we haven’t worked out how to do that, and that’s one of the conundrums at the heart of the post-2015 debate,” he said.

Conflict

On the flip-side of the negotiation, countries with poor records on government corruption, accountability and political freedom are already raising objections to committing themselves to targets for cleaning up the political class.

All the while, the elephant in the room is conflict. Ending poverty and any other target will be nigh impossible in such countries as Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where rebels battle government forces.

The SDG talks run alongside those for a legally-binding global treaty on limiting climate change, which is also due to be agreed at the end of 2015. These legacy projects for the UN chief, Ban, come in an era when multilateral efforts often struggle to take root.

For Melamed, there is no guarantee of success in the talks.

“It’s three things in one: an analysis of what people need and want, high-flying moral rhetoric, and a down-and-dirty political negotiation. It’s interesting, but it’s uncertain where this ends up. It could be a pointless, anodyne agreement. But it could be something good,” she said.

Source: Irin

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tedWithin each of us are two selves, suggests David Brooks in this meditative short talk: the self who craves success, who builds a résumé, and the self who seeks connection, community, love — the values that make for a great eulogy. (Joseph Soloveitchik has called these selves "Adam I" and "Adam II.") Brooks asks: Can we balance these two selves?

Source: TED

 

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SAYMCA ArtsThe South African YMCA shares their understanding of how arts can be used to creatively engage youth.

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, participants will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theatre, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.

4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a musical instrument for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through group work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives.

6. Non-Verbal Communication – Through experiences in theatre and dance education, children learn to breakdown the mechanics of body language. They experience different ways of moving and how those movements communicate different emotions. They are then coached in performance skills to ensure they are portraying their character effectively to the audience.

7. Receiving Constructive Feedback – Receiving constructive feedback about a performance or visual art piece is a regular part of any arts instruction. Children learn that feedback is part of learning and it is not something to be offended by or to be taken personally. It is something helpful. The goal is the improvement of skills and evaluation is incorporated at every step of the process. Each arts discipline has built in parameters to ensure that critique is a valuable experience and greatly contributes to the success of the final piece.

8. Collaboration – Most arts disciplines are collaborative in nature. Through the arts, children practice working together, sharing responsibility, and compromising with others to accomplish a common goal. When a child has a part to play in a music ensemble, or a theater or dance production, they begin to understand that their contribution is necessary for the success of the group. Through these experiences children gain confidence and start to learn that their contributions have value even if they don’t have the biggest role.

9. Dedication – When kids get to practice following through with artistic endeavours that result in a finished product or performance, they learn to associate dedication with a feeling of accomplishment. They practice developing healthy work habits of being on time for rehearsals and performances, respecting the contributions of others, and putting effort into the success of the final piece. In the performing arts, the reward for dedication is the warm feeling of an audience’s applause that comes rushing over you, making all your efforts worthwhile.

10. Accountability –When children practice creating something collaboratively they get used to the idea that their actions affect other people. They learn that when they are not prepared or on-time, that other people suffer. Through the arts, children also learn that it is important to admit that you made a mistake and take responsibility for it. Because mistakes are a regular part of the process of learning in the arts, children begin to see that mistakes happen. We acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.

Source: SAYMCA

Thursday, 10 April 2014 10:03
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liberiaymca2The Liberia YMCA and the Government of Liberia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a new YMCA Headquarters in Liberia.

At the signing ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia Youth and Sports Minister, Len Eugene Nagbe said the signing of the MOU formalises Government's committment to forge ahead together, that government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports will lend itself to securing funding for the rest of the project, while the YMCA secures 50% funding through donor support and partners contribution, including funds received from well-meaning Liberians.

"With 50% funding secured, it is the responsibility of Liberians including government, and well-meaning Liberians to ensure that the rest of the funding is secured," Minister Nagbe said.

The Liberian Youth and Sports Minister said the YMCA in Liberia has an impecable record of impacting the lives of young people for future leadership and better integration into society.

"The YMCA has served as a beacon of hope for many Liberians including its sporting facilities and life skills, which has improved the lives of a number of young people." Minister Nagbe furthered.

"The Liberia YMCA has this record and so we are about to take the YMCA to another level."

He thanked the YMCA and its National General Secretary, E. Edward Gboe who he said has worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition.

He also thanked the Vice President of Liberia, Ambassador Josepn N. Boakai who he said "is one of the strongest partons behind this effort."

"I urge all Liberians to rally around the Liberia YMCA so that we can conclude this modern YMCA complex." he concluded.

The National General Secretary of the Liberia YMCA, E. Edward Gboe appreciated Minister Nagbe and staff for their continuous support to youth service in the country.

"Today, the YMCA and the Government of Liberia are about to sign this MOU to lend support to the YMCA to provide a sociable and sustainable project to serve the youth community in Liberia."

"The YMCA is a service organisation - true to its mission statement - and has been demonstrating this over the years." Mr. Gboe said.

"Most of us Liberian youth and adults have benefited from the service of the YMCA and the mentorship of seniors- most of which are in the private sector."

"Given what we have benefited from the YMCA as Secretary General of the Liberia YMCA Minister of Youth and Sports, we must then give back to the communities." The YMCA National General said.

He thanked the government of Liberia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the assistance to the Liberia YMCA.

Under the MOU, the Government of Liberia will assist the Liberia YMCA with 50% for the construction of a mult-purpose YMCA headquarters, while the Liberia YMCA will secure the remaining 50% through donors and other support.

The Liberia YMCA has over the last few years been engaging partners and relevant stakeholders for the construction of a modern YMCA complex in Liberia. The project is estimated to cost between 3.5 - 4 million US dollars.

Source: Liberia YMCA

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