By Sarah Heinlin
On Wednesday 30th May 2018 the Executive Director and the five Regional Directors of Ghana YMCA met the Western Zone Coordinator, Mr. Christian Kamara, of the African Alliance of YMCAs in Accra.The Regional Directors presented their programmes and activities in their various regions.
The Volta Region as indicated by the Regional Director is having a yearly regional youth conference, and games and sport regularly. In addition, the three daycare centers in the Volta Region are still in operation. Since 2010 the Volta Regional YMCA center has been shut down, and the regional office is operating from a rented small office that affects their daily work and activities in approaching young people enormously. Therefore, they are in very dire need to get support to build up a new complex in Ho, where they own 3 plots of land to build on.
Completely different is the situation for the Eastern Region with their Regional Office in Koforidua, where they have a very nice centre with renovated conference hall and a hostel that offers space for programmes and activities. In the Eastern Region they are looking forward to scaling up their programmes on prevention of teenage pregnancy and initiate one on youth employability. In the meantime, they are preparing to host the National YMCA Youth Conference, that will be held in Koforidua in August 2018. The Region currently has under its jurisdiction one Senior High School at Mpraeso as well as six day-care centers with a total population of 1150.
The Regional Office of Greater Accra presented their recent programmes like sports and games, as well as a gardening project they have started recently on the YMCA compound in Accra with the support of 4 H. Furthermore, they are implementing the S2C programme through the YIELD initiative to enhance youth empowerment. Since the Greater Accra office is next door to the National Office, they share the same compound and facilities.
The Ashanti Region also runs the early childhood development programme through its 3 day-care centers. A recent programme introduced by the Region is dubbed “Youth in Transition”. They are planning to extend their programme with some partners in the coming month to be able to scale up the programme to empower more young people by counseling them on their professional career and further plans and giving them some skills training. In Kumasi, as well as in Koforidua and Accra the YMCA has cultural troops, too.
In the Western Region where the center in Takoradi is housing the Vocational Training Institute for girls, they stressed on the importance to strengthen their approach to recruit young people especially on how to retain them. It was made known that it is easy to bring young people in, whereas it is more challenging for them to be retained within the YMCA for long periods as members. They have plenty of young people with good ideas, but the lack of funding to implement their ideas as new projects on the ground is one of the causes for their low retention within the YMCA. They are planning to work on youth employability as well as on prevention of teenage pregnancy.
After those presentations there ensued a vibrant discussion about future plans for Ghana YMCA, before the Western Zone Coordinator introduced the “Power Space Programme” to the participants as a new strategy to empower young people. He then took the team through the membership charter and went on to share some advice on possible strategies the Ghana YMCA can adopt in increasing membership.
He stressed on the fact that the Power Space is a process that means engaging the youth through appealing activities, building self-awareness and skills for them and linking them with opportunities. Therefore, he implored the team to consider those strategy by using the process and creating space at our various centers and within our activities. Loosely translated, the strategy calls for more power to the young people by allowing them to take the lead in developing ideas, planning and implementing their own designed projects.
This might be also one opportunity out of others to attract and retain young people for the YMCA. Developing new programmes beside the traditional activities we had in the past, would be an asset for the Ghana YMCA. Other options, like networking and partnerships have been discussed and the attempt of the YMCA to improve in networking was jointly accepted.
All present agreed that it will be a long way, but they were ready to take up the challenge.