‘Be the change you want to see’, said World YMCA President Patricia Pelton, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, as she congratulated 130 Change Agents from 50 countries who graduated online today.
“Whether we know you as ‘the Covid cohort’ or ‘the YMCA175 cohort’, just go out there and better yourselves, your communities, your world”, she said.
The ceremony marked the end of a 2-year programme which will forever be associated with a global gathering of all Change Agents worldwide at Fairthorne, England, in August 2019, followed by the YMCA’s 175th anniversary celebrations in London attended by over 3,000 people.
The Change Agents 4th cohort will also be associated with its response to the Covid pandemic which has so profoundly affected young people – their education, their employment, their mental health – worldwide. The cohort led the online response, especially in a series of Youth Voice debates in June 2020.
Investing in the young leaders of the movement, the YMCA Change Agent programme is a global leadership development curriculum created to empower young volunteers and staff from YMCAs across the world, to be change makers in their own communities.
Consisting of online and face-to-face training, local mentoring, and local project development, Change Agents gain skills designed to help transform their YMCA and community, as well as building connections to an international network of other young leaders.
Since 2014, three cohorts, totalling 750 Change Agents, have graduated and now lead change in 67 countries around the world.
‘The destiny of our Movement is in your hands’, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee. ‘The journey starts now. Let the Change Agents be the changemakers in their communities.’
Mathilde Thue of Norway, a former Change Agent who now serves on the World YMCA Executive Committee, said ‘I can’t wait to meet you all along the journey’.
Alumni Change Agents are also YMCA National General Secretaries, YMCA Board Members and Presidents. They embody the YMCA’s commitment to ‘youth-led solutions’, with young people having the energy and the ideas to step up and serve their communities and meet society’s challenges.