By Cedric Dzelu, Change Agent, Ghana
YMCA is in Thailand! 1500 participants from YMCAs across the world are meeting in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the 19th World Council of the YMCA. The meeting happens every 4 years, last one having been held in 2014 in Denver, USA. In attendance are staff and member countries of Africa Alliance of YMCA as well World Alliance staff and some members.
For the benefit of those who may be reading this piece as their first point of contact with the YMCA, the YMCA stands for; Young Men Christian Association. The “men” stands for Mankind, which is to say that, the YMCA is an organization for both men and women. It is a Christian and Ecumenical Movement established on the 6th of June, 1844 by George William. It sole mission is to empower young people and it has been doing so for the past 174 years in 120 countries reaching 58 million people. This makes the YMCA the oldest and largest Youth Organization in the World.
The YMCA World Council is the highest in terms of leadership of YMCA and the largest in terms of numbers. The World Council is where the future of the movement is decided by addressing the governance requirement of the Organization, interest of members and strategizing for the long term. The gathering in Thailand will be characterized by activities such as; Election of World Executives to man the Leadership Affairs of the Global Movement for the next four years, the official introduction of Mr. Carlos Sanvee as the Incoming Secretary General of the World YMCA, Speeches from Leaders from inside and outside the organization to provide inspiration and deep reflections needed by members in continuing the work of youth empowerment, group work intended to share ideas and knowledge, Devotions, Excursions to explore what it means when they say Thailand is a land of diversity and cultural performances from different countries.
#YE4GOOD, Meaning Youth Empowerment for Good is the theme of the World Council, a reaffirmation of the foundational resolutions and the ideals establishing the YMCA as a youth movement with the prime business of empowering young people. #YE4GOOD is solidly anchored on four strategic directions; Civic Engagement, Environment, Health and Youth Employment. The YMCA has always believed that youth empowerment is far bigger than one single issue and that there is the need to approach Youth Empowerment with multiple strategies in an attempt to addressing the multi complex challenges of young people across the world and it is the hope of everyone that delegates of the 19th World Council will truly commit themselves in finding strategic directions towards addressing these four focal areas of the World Council.
As a way to walk the talk, the YMCA will be implementing its GREEN PROFILE at the World Council in Thailand, a demonstration that the YMCA takes environmental responsibility seriously. This initiative will be led by the YMCA Resource Group on the Environment with the support of the Chiang Mai YMCA. Among the strategies to be employed in achieving this shall be minimal printings and where printing is necessary only certified printing papers shall be used, there shall be group transportation to and from Airports, Recycle Bins in common areas and follow up on waste destination, Reusable name tags and tote bags, Buffet arrangements for avoiding wastage of food, Water saving management practices and Preference for locally produced items. By implementing this green plan its the hope of the World YMCA that the World Council of 1500 participants shall minimise its impact on the environment.
Such an important global gathering cannot take place without provisions for adequate digital engagement and giving others the opportunity regardless of their location to participate and be part of the conversation and experience, whether you will be in Thailand or not you are encouraged to get connected and be part of this once in a four year transformative journey; Follow the conversation online hashtag #YMCAWC18 #YE4GOOD.