YMCAs across the world today are celebrating the birthday of the YMCA Movement. From humble beginnings in London in 1844, today the Movement serves young people and has grown to reach over 60 million people a year across 120 countries.
Established as a safe space for young Christian men, YMCA now welcomes men and women of any or no faith, of any race or background. With nearly 90,000 staff, some 920,000 volunteers and 12,000 branches worldwide, its work embraces young and old.
While associated with many things – including affordable accommodation for the vulnerable; the invention of basketball and the role of ‘gym and swim’; even a 1970s disco song and its accompanying dance moves – the Movement is above all about one thing: youth empowerment.
General Secretary of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, Lantonirina Rakotomalala, said “ Today we celebrate the significant growth of the YMCA, from providing services to young people, to empowering young people to embrace innovation and provide the solutions themselves. We celebrate our founders as the YMCA moves forward in its mandate of empowering young people.”