We believe in the potential of youth as active citizens. Our Subject to Citizen (S2C) initiative is designed to unlock this potential and equip youth with the skills and confidence to transform themselves and other young people. S2C is based on the concept that young people are subjects in the way they are both excluded and manipulated politically, economically and socially. The result is that many youths are at risk, idle, lack hope and confidence and are thus open to exploitation and taking up violence. S2C moves youth to a state of citizenship where they understand the root causes of problems, articulate viewpoints and are part of positive change at various levels of decision-making.

S2C programmes involve:

Power Spaces

To mobilise youth both inside and outside the YMCA for the Africa we want, the PowerSpace is the vehicle that is giving birth to young confident, empowered, articulate and energised change-makers in their communities.

In 2017, the power space concept was finalised as having four distinct areas:

Activities which will engage the youth of the YMCAs as well as those outside the YMCA. The PowerSpace is marketed as a fun and empowering space youth want to attend. For example, art, public speaking, sports or music activities.

Through modules on identity, purpose and attitude, youth build dreams, aspirations and goals in life. In this way, the PowerSpace helps youth to gain critical life and personal development skills. To fully achieve transformation, the PowerSpace will link youth with exciting and promising. Once the youth have a clear picture of where they want to go in life and what they want to achieve, opportunities to fully realise their potential. These offerings are vast and offer anything from reworking to career expos. the PowerSpace builds the required skills to help them to achieve this. Some skills are essential such as communication skills, some come from internships and others may be specific and niche skills.

In Senegal, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and Madagascar, the National Movements experimented with the PowerSpace in terms of the local context and branch level. Often linked directly to the programmes, and at other times linked to topical, current or contextual issues, the PowerSpace adds value to the empowerment of young people. The empowerment that gives them the confidence, courage, skills and suitable opportunities to make a change as they lead us into the future.

PowerSpaces were created in readiness for the 2018 thrust which is now focused firstly on self-awareness before the other steps then come into play.

Civic Action

This involves youth transforming other youth to speak out about issues that are of concern to them, engage with those in authority and make a positive contribution to affairs from school level to parliament. It is currently being piloted in Kenya, Liberia and Zimbabwe.


The Because I Count programme concerns the YMCA reaching out to the ecumenical movement and to those of other faiths in order to foster diversity and peace, based on the rise of religious violence.

The Because I Count programme is about engaging young people in an interfaith dialogue that prevents the effects of religious marginalisation. The programme works primarily with Christian and Muslim youth to promote joint actions among the youth of these two faiths on religious diversity and countering violent extremism. This falls under Civic Action as it is about deliberate action for change now.

Partners: Kenya YMCA and an inter-faith working group comprising representatives from United Religions Initiative, Think Place Kenya, Technical University of Mombasa

2018 AIMS

  • Train 30 catalysts
  • Reach 1 080 youth through sensitisation and training
  • Hold 4 community outreach events
  • Host an inter-faith dialogue conference
  • One research project
  • Conduct economic training for 200 youth
  • Conduct 1 business clinic session in November
  • 15 table banking groups formed
  • Advocacy on countering violent extremism
Transformative Masculinity

By promoting peer initiatives, intergenerational dialogue and working with the media, AAYMCA is supporting the youth to re-order and shift from masculinity that relies on dominance and abuse to one of mutual respect and understanding. It is currently being piloted in Zimbabwe. The programme was developed through a consultative process involving Y Clubs (at schools) and R Clubs (post school). The process reflected youth commitment to transform youth masculinity and comprised:

  • Baseline survey in 2009, involving 1200 youth
  • Participatory action research in 2010, involving 400 youth and a further 5 focus groups of youth and community members
  • Qualitative research in 2011, involving 100 youth
  • Continual desktop research
  • Programme development workshop in August 2011, involving 30 youth Gender Change Catalysts – Selected from R Clubs (for school-going youth) and Y Clubs (for out-of-school youth), the catalysts:
  • Engage in peer mentoring in the Y and R Clubs
  • Coordinate the database and networking initiative
  • Manage and facilitate the community forums
  • Coordinate the celebrate life events

Partnership database directory – for networking with corporates, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, community/traditional leaders, policy makers and implementers, and civil service providers such as police and health services.

Information library – archives made available to partnership and community on masculinity and gender.

Community Forums – for dialogue between male and female community members and leaders on gendered issues.

Celebrate Life Programme (CeLi) – Aimed at a younger age group, CeLi is a community youth celebratory event which provides space for male and female youth to socialise and express themselves in youthful ways.

Men and Women Communicating for Justice Project (MWCJ) – selected through participating R and Y Clubs, this project profiles ongoing gender discussions within the communities.


#Real Man falls under the Transformative Masculinity initiative which creates respect, peace and harmony between young women and men as partners, due to high levels of gender-based violence and imbalances. #ARealManIs programme works specifically with young men around identity and personal change in order that they then work with young women as partners to bring about community change on gender norms and masculinity.

Partners: Zambia YMCA, Kenya YMCA and PAWA 254 MAN AFRICA REAL

2018 Aims

  • One research project
  • Support for 60 gender change catalysts
  • Reach 3 500 youth through sensitisation and training
  • Engage and support 10 companies to develop and implement anti-sexual harassment policies
  • Conduct 10 masculinity training sessions with HR staff
  • Hold a Father’s Day campaign, with the aim of reaching 200 000 people online
  • 16 Days of Activism campaign to reach 2,500 000 people online
  • Partnerships with 10 radio stations
  • Launch 6 safe PowerSpaces
  • Partnerships with 12 community faith-based organisations and NGOs
Youth Justice

By working with young people who are in conflict with the law, or at risk of entering into crime, the AAYMCA is helping to integrate youth into their community as members who make a positive contribution. This programme features role-modelling, life skills training as well as both personal and entrepreneurial development.

Youth Justice is a programme run along multi-levels as a response to the high numbers of youth in conflict with the law: raising awareness and intervention with youth in areas of high risk for violence and crime; rehabilitation in places of incarceration from literacy to personal development to vocational training; and reintegration with the family and into the community which also includes job placement and victim-offender dialogues.

Partner YMCAs: YMCAs of Senegal, Madagascar, Togo, South Africa

2018 Aims

  • To introduce the PowerSpace as a key intervention methodology in the rehabilitation of ex-offenders
  • To use the PowerSpace as a methodology of intervention within the prison system in the countries served by the partner YMCAs
  • One research project
Economic Renaissance

This programme empowers youth firstly by understanding and changing their mindset on the economic realities and the mechanisms that create poverty. Secondly, by equipping them with knowledge to identify and access new opportunities and acquire entrepreneurial skills for alternative wealth creation for their communities and themselves. It is currently being piloted in Madagascar.


#Career Manenoz is a flagship initiative of Economic Renaissance, which also includes economic empowerment, vocational training and entrepreneurship. The initiative secures local financial and in-kind support to hold an event and side-processes so young people interact with various professionals and organisations for skills-building in entrepreneurship, job preparedness and opportunities for further training and work placement. The ultimate goal is to establish a youth and employment ecosystem – a collaborative platform yielding youth economic attainment.

Partners: Senegal YMCA and Kenya YMCA for #Career Manenoz. All African YMCAs have elements of Economic Renaissance in their programmes.

2018 Aims

  • 4 African YMCAs adopt #CareerManenoz as both a YMCA lifestyle, using the PowerSpace, and as a career expo annually.
  • Within each national YMCA, local branches establish 5 partnerships for resource mobilisation and youth mobilisation impact in at least 4 African YMCAs implementing the initiative