Empowering young people through basketball

Date: 21 December 2023

YMCA San Juan and FIBA Foundation team up for Youth Leadership Program

The YMCA of San Juan recently partnered with the FIBA Foundation to form a winning team. 

The YMCA of San Juan has served its Puerto Rican community for 100+ years and hosted the FIBA Foundation’s Youth Leadership Program, a global ‘Basketball for Good’ initiative. This programme, aimed at empowering young people from diverse backgrounds, gives them the knowledge, skills and confidence to create successful programmes in their communities. Last December, the YMCA and FIBA Foundation announced a formal partnership

“The YMCA San Juan has given us our first opportunity to experience this partnership with FIBA, and it has been such a positive experience”, said Kathleen Elsig, the Director of Global Partnerships for the World YMCA. “We look forward to building on this collaboration”. 

Leadership Program

The programme was held in conjunction with the  FIBA 3×3 AmeriCup in San Juan from 1-3 December 2023. As event hosts, YMCA San Juan provided the space for daily workshops, classes and court use. 

It wasn’t just discussions and theories – the 13 leaders had the opportunity to facilitate a basketball clinic at the YMCA. They worked with participants of the PRE-Y programme (below), which provides sports and other activities and Social Work services for children with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Patricia Negron, External Resources Manager at the YMCA San Juan, said the clinic was one of the programme highlights. 

“The young leaders were excited to be here and have the opportunity to work with people from different countries”, she said. “And there were enough Spanish speakers among them, so they naturally worked together in ways that made sense. It was a great dynamic”.

Along with learning about creating successful programmes from concept to executive, the leaders also got to know the YMCA. Many had little to no knowledge about the YMCA – beyond a “gym-and-swim” or even the song – and they developed a broader understanding of the mission of the YMCA San Juan and the global mission. 

YMCA San Juan up close 

The YMCA offers something for all ages, including a Center for Preschool Development, a Wellness Center, pool, classes and sports programmes – including basketball.

“Although we offer different programs, such as volleyball and swimming,  basketball is an important one for us, and we’re fortunate to have great courts”, she said, adding it’s an integral part of the PRE-Y programme. The YMCA San Juan also offers a variety of sports and recreation programmes for adults, including the Master’s basketball league and a programme designed to support people with Parkinson’s Disease and their caretakers in their unique health and wellness journeys.

The YMCA of San Juan also offers diverse educational programming.  The Center for Preschool Development supports families with childcare beginning at two months old. It offers a creative and stimulative curriculum that highlights learning through play and storytelling and includes the following courses: Sports, Recreative Pool Time, Arts and Crafts, English as a Second Language, and a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Lab.  

Additionally, the YMCA of San Juan offers vocational training to instil the necessary skills into participants, so they can gain employment or become self-employed in industries that will help boost the local economy during the next decade.

Patricia said the YMCA places a priority on partnerships – both with global organisations like the FIBA Foundation and locally. They reached out to contacts within the local Boys and Girls Club, which supports single-parent households. Because of that collaboration, the Youth Leadership participants were able to visit the Boys and Girls Club of Las Margaritas and get a better understanding of how they serve the community. 

“The participants really enjoyed their visit, and it further enriched their programme experience”, Patricia said.

Patricia said they will continue looking for ways to grow and develop new partnerships. 

“We believe that supporting other nonprofits is crucial. We’re not competing”, she said. “We share similar missions and values. Nonprofit organisations grow immensely when collaborating”. 

Learn more about YMCA San Juan and the FIBA Foundation Youth Leadership Program here.