World YWCA/YMCA Week of Prayer and World Fellowship 2018

World YMCA/YWCA Week of Prayer 2018

For over a century, the YWCA and YMCA movements have issued a joint call to pray in the month of November as an important reminder of the spiritual vision that drives their efforts to create a better world for all people. The week presents an opportunity for the YWCA and YMCA movements to pray and act together on a shared issue with members around the world. Each year, the YWCA and the YMCA take turns to lead on the preparation of a booklet as a resource for prayer and a reflection guide with a selected theme inspired on the work and efforts done by both organisations.

For 2018, after a YMCA World Council full of energy and youth empowerment, the YMCA is leading on the development of the booklet under the theme:  “Youth Empowerment for Good”.

The World Week of Prayer is November 11-17, 2018 and the booklet will be available soon in YWCA/YMCA websites in English, French and Spanish.


The Harlem Globetrotters and World YMCA sign global partnership

Harlem Globetrotters

The World YMCA and the Harlem Globetrotters, two organisations with basketball at its heart, signed an official global partnership at the YMCA 19th World Council in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This partnership aims to bring more people together to experience basketball through a campaign and ambassadorship that focuses on the power of sport and community.

The YMCA invented basketball. The Harlem Globetrotters are the most beloved sports team on the planet.

Globetrotter President Howard Smith and World YMCA Secretary General Johan Vilhelm Eltvik signed an official partnership agreement, having first met at the 2016 Vatican conference ‘Sport at the Service of Humanity’.

“Our values fit together. Our history fit together. We both put community first and we both have basketball at our core,” Johan said.

“This joint commitment to people, through basketball is why we are delighted to partner together and to serve humanity by encouraging everyone to go play basketball,” Eltvik said.

Howard Smith believes this partnership will not only make both organisations stronger but greatly increase their impact as a social movement.

“The YMCA and Harlem Globetrotters exist to serve others. Our organisations are uniquely entwined and no-one has the legacy, footprint and values we have,” Howard said.

Basketball was invented at the YMCA in Springfield, USA in 1891 to keep rowdy youth busy in the cold New England winter months. Today, basketball is a staple in YMCAs around the world and is a symbol of youth empowerment and community, with the YMCA existing in 120 countries worldwide working for social justice for all young people regardless of religion, race, gender or culture. Founded in 1855 it is the oldest and largest youth movement in the world.

The Harlem Globetrotters are a worldwide icon founded in 1926 synonymous with basketball. They have entertained more than 148 million fans in 123 countries and territories worldwide with a strong focus on family and young people. A number of the Harlem Globetrotter players first learnt how to play basketball through their local YMCAs.

Further information:
World YMCA web page with a lot of resources on the Harlem Globetrotters
Harlem Globetrotters

Media enquiries:
Andrew McKenzie, Executive Secretary – Communications, World YMCA – Email:


World YMCA celebrates International Youth Day 2018

The theme for the UN International Youth Day 2018 is Safe Spaces For Youth.

Inclusion and diversity is at the core of the YMCA.

The World YMCA aims to empower all young people without discrimination. The YMCA, as the world’s oldest and largest youth movement, supports International Youth Day and the creation of more Safe Spaces for Young People.

International Youth Day 2018 aims to promote youth engagement and empowerment by exploring the role of safe spaces in contributing to freedom of expression, mutual respect and constructive dialogue. The availability and accessibility of physical and virtual safe spaces can enhance young people’s potential by providing common ground and opportunities for innovation and creativity.

“Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth”, the UN reports.

The YMCA movement recently made significant steps to promote social inclusion and non-discrimination for all people within the YMCA. At the 19th YMCA World Council the movement received a Report from its Learning Group in response to a resolution from the 18th World Council.

The Report is the result of two years of research and consultation on how to facilitate a Safe Space discussion abiding to the UN Human Rights Declaration to strive courageously against discrimination.

Central to this Report was the World YMCA Value Statement on Inclusion. This statement is not prescriptive and non-binding for any member movement, in accordance with World YMCA Constitution. Each member movement is encouraged to embrace Challenge 21’s invitation to engage with their needs according to their local reality. As the preamble states, “Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context” so we demonstrate our Christian and ecumenical position of being open, loving and inclusive of all.

Supporting the Value Statement is a methodology for YMCAs to use to conduct Safe Spaces. The Report, Value Statement and Methodology can be read CLICK HERE

The World YMCA statement builds on the YMCA principles from its Paris Basis where is states “That they all be one.” John 17:21.

We fully support International Youth Day and the creation of Safe Spaces for Youth.

Warm regards,

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik – Secretary General


Diversity around the globe was accepted in the founding document of the World Alliance of YMCAs in 1855, where it is stated that no issues, however important they may be, shall divide the YMCA. The focus is on unity in Christ – “that they all may be one.”

Therefore – diversity and inclusion are core to the YMCA movement.
Therefore – the YMCA movement is open and inclusive of all people regardless of their ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.

However, we admit that we are not perfect in demonstrating God’s unconditional love, and that it is an ongoing process to become fully inclusive in order to improve our service to humanity.

Therefore the YMCA movement must strive courageously against any discriminatory behaviour and will always abide by the UN Human Rights Declaration.”