Executive Committee holds final meeting

3 July 7:30 pm

As the 20th YMCA World Council officially opened 3 July, the Executive Committee held its final meeting to conduct business, reflect on the past four years, and even shed a tear or two as their time together draws to a close. 

“It’s incredible that many of us were able to be here in person due to the challenges of the past few years,” said World YMCA president Patricia Pelton, thanking both the in-person and online attendees. “In spite of Covid, we have accomplished a lot. I’m proud of this committee and what we’ve accomplished under Carlos’ leadership, and everyone on the committee should be proud.”

In addition to wrapping up official business, Executive Committee members enjoyed the chance to come together to talk about their lives, sharing joyous news and sorrows. In-person attendees swapped stories of the challenges of travelling to Aarhus – there were many delayed flights and lost suitcases along the way. Yirga Gebregziabher Assefa of Ethiopia, attending online, expressed how much serving on the Executive Committee has meant to him, particularly considering the recent hardships in his country. 

The committee voted Patricia Pelton as the recipient of the Life Membership Award. “It has been a privilege,” she said, “and I thank you for your vote of confidence.” Committee members also received certificates and gratitude for their service from World Secretary General Carlos Sanvee and Patricia Pelton.  

Steve Butz, a longtime YMCA Canada executive and a project manager for the 20th World Council, has been hard at work behind the scenes in assisting with event planning.  “Along with Vision 2030, which is the heart of the program, there are so many cool parts to the event. At the Engagement panels, for instance, we get to watch how YMCAs are bringing to life today some of the things we aspire to as a global movement.” 

Steve also shared interesting data about this year’s World Council:

  • There are 75 countries represented
  • About 75 percent of the delegates are attending for the first time
  • Almost 50 percent of the people attending are 30 and under

World Council is not an end, he stressed, only an important step along a journey. “We are putting the greatest value on our time together so that Y leaders can do the things that matter,” he said. 

New this year is the online programme, which is drawing about 1,000 attendees and enabling many to attend who couldn’t otherwise in person. 

“When we say 2,000 delegates are attending this year, half of them are online,” Steve said. “Our in-person and online attendees are two equal halves of a whole.”

Carlos Sanvee reflected on key achievements from 2018-2022, the four years since the last World Council. Highlights included:

  • YMCA 175 Celebrations: The YMCA celebrated its 175th anniversary with more than 3,000 young leaders in attendance in London in August 2019.  
  • Change Agents Cohort 4: In April 2019 Cohort 4 of the Change Agents programme began. More than 150 young leaders from every Area were registered. 
  • YMCA Global Refugee Summit: The Summit took place, in Baltimore, Maryland, USA at the beginning of October 2019. Led by practitioners, the international YMCA family came together to focus our efforts on more impactful outcomes and to stand up for a dedicated humanitarian approach in this critical time.
  • SDG Survey: The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 global goals themed around ending poverty, protecting the planet and enabling peace and prosperity. World YMCA developed, tested and initiated a survey to map the work being done across the YMCA global Movement to achieve the 2030 agenda of the SDGs. 
  • Global Youth Mobilization for Generation Disrupted: World YMCA and the rest of the Big 6 joined WHO in launching the ‘Global Youth Mobilization for Generation Disrupted’ to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on young people. 
  • Solidarity Fund: The World YMCA acted fast to establish a mechanism to give financial support to those national YMCAs which suddenly found themselves in difficulty in the face of COVID-19. 
  • Youth-Led Solutions Summit: A series of summits were held online and focussed on young people developing their own solutions. 

 “We have shown the ability,” Carlos Sanvee said, “to transition in a Covid world.” On the other hand, many of the challenges the YMCA faces today were brought about by or exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, from which we are still emerging. 

However, “the YMCA has left no stone unturned to achieve its objectives to fulfil its contemporary mission,” he said. 

The Executive Committee concluded business and approved for presentation to the delegates of the 20th World Council: Vision 2030 and YMCA Kosovo as a full member of the World Alliance of YMCA. YMCA Kosovo is a member of the European Alliance of YMCAs. 

Said Patricia Pelton of Vision 2030, “This is a remarkable achievement that impacts the entire YMCA movement and the centrepiece of our World Council.”