The YMCA journey over the last decade has been an exciting one. My first contact with the YMCA was when I managed the media coverage for World Council 2006 in Durban, South Africa, in my capacity as a corporate communications consultant.
At the time, I remember sticking pieces of paper with various parts of the YMCA on my wall. It was a puzzle and I tried to connect the different pieces. The YMCAs in Africa were so very diverse with different visions, focus areas, activities, logos… all doing very good things, from early child development to frail care assistance, in the communities in the continent.
A year later, when I was now a volunteer for the South African YMCA, the African YMCA movement began to unite through a process that looked to the future. Soon the pieces started coming together (and by now I was a staff member at the AAYMCA): shared vision, common logo, the same core identity. And, out of our core identity with a key focus on youth empowerment, came Subject to Citizen (S2C), our change model. This revolutionised our thinking and our engagement with young people.
We recently launched a new economic model which is guiding us to sustainability in order that we can remain mission centred. We are focused on standards through our chartering system which ensures that African YMCAs are bound by good governance and that we remain concentrated on our mission.
Fast forward some years and we are now once again looking at the future. We know that with the African Union development plan, Agenda 2063, will guide us as we are marching together to the Africa we Want. One of peace, prosperity, and individual and global dignity. So we know that our YMCA needs to be proactive in positioning ourselves well for this future in which the youth lead us. A future where young people are actually in the driver’s seat of the African Renaissance.
Next week, 16 -20 May, our African leaders, youth, stakeholders, and associates will gather at the YMCA 3.0 Conference to engage in this re-engineering for the future process. The wonderful thing about the YMCA is that it is a space and place to innovate and to co-create. To imagine and then act. I am sure the next decade will be equally invigorating as we keep pace and set trends into the future.
By Gil Harper, International and Corporate Affairs, AAYMCA