On 6 June 1844, 168 years ago, George Williams gathered together Christians who were concerned that the only inexpensive places to stay were taverns and brothels. There were few healthy alternatives to alcohol, gambling and prostituion and there was a great need for low-cost Christian housing for young men and women in the cities. Within a decade, there were YMCAs in nine countries across four continents.
In the midst of the Industial Revolution, the early birth of the YMCA spawned a world wide movement that today serves over 45 Million members across 125 federations and 12000 local communities. Our movement has seen 3 Nobel Prize winners rise from its membership, a remarkable acheivement. The movement has evolved to include youth development and rights championship and today remains one of the oldest, most influential and popular development agencies in the world.
This year, from 9-16 June, the YMCA Flag Week becomes the keystone for our Founders Day activities, with youth throughout the world selling flags and distributing YMCA brochures to raise funds for further programming. YMCAs throughout the world will also take part in their own Founders Day activities which includes the launching of new youth development programmes and the celebration of the Youth voice through music, dance, drama and sport.
Today, on our global birthday, we look to the work done throughout the world and are reminded that we hold the potential future of the youth in our hands. We celebrate and congratulate all for what we as a movement have acheived and are reminded that there is still much to do in the century to come.
Happy Birthday to all on this Founders Day!