Trinidad & Tobago – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1921
Membership Status: Full
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1981
Brief YMCA History
The YMCA was first established in Port of Spain in 1921 by a British minister, Rev William Poole, attached to the London Baptist Church. At that time Trinidad and Tobago were British colonies. During the world depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the YMCA ceased to operate and not much is known about its activities. In 1954, some young businessmen in San Fernando decided to form a Y’s Men’s Club in order to meet the needs of youth. Six of them attended the Centennial celebrations of the World Alliance in Paris in 1955 and with the support of the YMCAs of the United Kingdom and the World Alliance in 1957/1958, established YMCAs in San Fernando, Port of Spain and Tobago. The Y’s Men’s Clubs gave leadership to these groups, during the period leading up to national independence. The YMCA of Port of Spain was inaugurated on April 6, 1964. After some years, a national association, the YMCA of Trinidad and Tobago, was incorporated by Act of Parliament. Local YMCAs in Port of Spain, Sangre Grande and Tobago are branches of this national association. The YMCA also operates other programme centres in Beetham, Sea Lots and Diego Martin, and actively participates in community development throughout the country.
The YMCA of Trinidad and Tobago is a Christian organisation, open to all. Our mission is to develop healthy, caring, responsible individuals, contributing positively to a society characterized by love and unity. The YMCA actively promotes Challenge 21 among its members and community.
The major focus of the YMCA is on youth and children. Our major programmes include – Youth Outreach to at-risk youth, mostly homeless youth, school dropouts, incarcerated youth and youth from depressed communities. This programme includes counselling, meals and other basic necessities, remedial education, scholarships for skill training and legal counsel. This programme led the YMCA into Youth Advocacy, Child Rights Advocacy and Community Outreach.
– Youth Empowerment & Leadership Training with young people. This includes Volunteer Recruitment, Orientation and Preparation for Employment.
– Community Empowerment through Networking. The YMCA is involved in community issues, especially those affecting young people, the environment and human rights. We spearheaded the Jubilee 2000 National Coalition. We helped organise a VOTE Campaign, which encouraged young people to become involved in politics, the Save the Mangrove Campaign, the People’s Platform, and Walkers of the Talk (WOTT). Our young volunteers and staff participated in the HIV/AIDS Association, the Corporal Punishment issue, Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, National Youth Policy formulation, the Gender Justice Campaign. We continued to be strong advocates for children’s rights and are the lead agency in the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition for the Rights of the Child. We participated in formal and informal networks, working for young mothers, Parenting Training and the Advancement of Women. Character Caravan is a programme that uses culture, music and, storytelling to promote and discuss the values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.
– Early Childhood Care & Education Programmes, through Pre-School, Nursery for babies and toddlers, After School Programmes (Homework Centres).
– Vacation Camps and Community Peace Camps during the school vacations.
– Aquatics and recreational activities, including learn-to-swim, first aid, basketball and other sporting activities.
– Cultural activities including musical training in the steel pan.
– Vocational training in sewing, cookery, electronics, gerontology (care of the aged), draperies, floral arrangement and soft furnishing.
The following description is an excerpt from the UNDP’s National Human Development Report 2000 – Youth at Risk in Trinidad and Tobago and serves as a summary of the main programmes of the YMCA of Trinidad and Tobago:
‘The YMCA offers a multi-faceted menu to youth and specializes in coaching swimming to an advanced level. It offers after-school homework programmes, vacation and recreational programmes and computer training. The ‘Y’ also runs an early childhood programme and playgroups for youth of all ages. Its community outreach programme is focussed on working with youth in depressed communities and with street children. Through its Youth Volunteer Programme it offers opportunities for leadership training for youth who are recruited from secondary school. Many will eventually find a career in youth service from this exposure. Ideally there should be a ‘Y’ in every community, since its programmes, with extended hours throughout the day and year, are truly supportive of parents. They provide structured activity, fellowship, skills, workshops in sexuality and parenting, and inter-generation encounters.’
Address – National Office
NGS, Alexander Odetta
Benbow Rd off Wrightson Rd
Trinidad & Tobago
No YMCA accomodation available in Trinidad and Tobago.