From Stoke to Geneva and the World.
|Swiss flag flies with Jet d'Eau on Lake Geneva|
World YMCA is proud to support four key areas of advocacy to support its goal of empowering young people all over the globe (Health, Environment, Employment & Civic Engagement). These areas involve a ‘World Resource Group’ where leaders and young people share best practices and knowledge to succeed in spreading and supporting YMCAs global youth empowerment impact.
|YMCA North Staffordshire|
That’s the world, but a little bit about me and maybe, why me? I started in humble beginnings volunteering in my local YMCA (YMCA North Staffordshire) buttering up sandwiches for young people. Eight magnificent years later here I was in Geneva, sitting at a table at World YMCA, meeting with other YMCA leaders from different areas of the world and also in attendance was World YMCA Secretary General, Johan Vilhelm Eltvik. For more than a year, I have been privileged to call myself a YMCA Youth Ambassador. It is a role that has taken me to noteworthy events and places of global importance with an overarching goal of advocating on behalf of all young people.
|Back - (Daniel, Myself) Front (Carlos, Lisa, Johan, Nader Lloyd) Outside World YMCA|
The next step of my YMCA journey was to join the World Resource Group for Civic Engagement and through my years at YMCA, I have produced a strong passion about young people; how young people engage civically in their local and regional community in addition to their involvement with democratic processes. All the above has been strengthened through my visit to the United Nations ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York as well as attending a World YMCA Programme Innovation Camp (Youth & Parliament).
|Swiss National Day celebrations|
After a manic rush that preceded my landing in Geneva, I was finally there. From the airport to our meeting point, I was greeted in central Geneva with a carnival atmosphere – literally. Fireworks, people in the streets singing and dancing, a park full of people hovering around a large fire and a small concert. Clearly Geneva and Switzerland put out all the stops as they knew I was arriving, all the fuss wasn’t for the fact it was to celebrate Switzerland’s national day, it was just my welcome party.
|Why play one traditional Swiss horn, when you can play two|
|Geneva to the World|
We all arrived at World YMCA full of vibrant ideas and concepts that can help shape the way YMCA impacts and supports young people to engage in ethical social action, such action that develops and strengthens young people but also the communities and societies those young people live. We are a small, but growing group, Nader (Middle East), Lisa (USA), Daniel (Mexico), Carlos (World YMCA) & Lloyd (Africa) and I (Europe). We all support and advocate Youth Empowerment: To give youth the platform and tools they need (whatever that may be, depending on the young person’s starting point) to feel needed, trusted, and able to believe in possibilities, to further trust themselves to lead and believe they can make a difference, thereby becoming a change maker in the world.
|Stand and Deliver|
The question may be simple but the answers are not, how do we get young people to engage civically? We didn’t converse around a table to make young people see civic engagement as a tokenistic opportunity. We deliberated on how young people need to be better equipped to create positive change through ethical action and how we (YMCA) one of the largest youth organisations in the world can aid young people to achieve that feat.
|A photo in the room, if ever we needed inspiring - 1894 YMCA Jubilee Celebrations at Windsor Castle, England|
It is early days for this Resource Group, but the journey has started. YMCA has a proud and strong history which has created the foundations for present. Now I look to the future. The future is uncertain, the future always will be, however with young people being active in creating positive change, I am optimistic that the future will be a positive and inclusive one. My fellow colleagues and I will take an active approach in making sure this is achieved – buckle up, I’m ready!! Are you?
|Sir George Williams|