New Year Message from the Secretary General

Date: 31 December 2013

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Our Biggest Project

Vancouver, Canada in April:
I am at the NAYDO conference when a minister from the Canadian government meets with us. And I am there with Canadian change agents.

Tokyo, Japan in June: Meeting with YMCA leaders from all over Japan. When I give a speech on youth empowerment, my translator is a young Japanese change agent.

Melbourne, Australia in November: Together with 80 CEOs from Big City YMCAs at the World Urban Network conference. On stage, under the bright lights, an Australian change agent is speaking to us about youth empowerment and social media.

Prague, Czech Republic in August: 5000 young YMCA people are singing together because they Love2Live at the YMCA Europe Festival. 200 Change Agents from 68 countries are there in the crowd. They are there for a week of training to bring change and inspiration to this movement we love.

This is the highlight of my year. I get to spend a week together with them. To listen and watch them work, discuss, and enjoy life together. Their work and energy is a perfect example of the strength of the YMCA movement.

Geneva, Switzerland in December: In the midst of the winter cold, I cannot stop reading their essays. These are honest young leaders. Willing to analyze themselves for areas of growth and development. They are service-minded leaders who deeply love the YMCA they serve. As I am reading I can see the their faces and I know them.
This is the biggest project I have ever been involved in.

It is about unifying a world movement. It is about change.

At every stop of the world I travel, there are YMCA Change Agents ready for the task. As this first group of change agents integrates into all levels of the YMCA, recruitment will soon begin for a second group to join them. Can you imagine that? We are everywhere and we are there for good. To stay.

Estes Park, Colorado USA on the 29th of June, 2014: 1200 YMCA participants from every corner of the world will join together. 220 Change Agents will be there to lift up the World Council and let it shine.

Empowering young people, after all, is about living God’s vision of a just community—one where young people are given the space to stand up and raise their voice; where they have hope for good employment, a healthy life, a society that they can influence, and a green earth they can enjoy for future generations.

We do not victimize young people because we see them as strong and resourceful. We do not want to live or decide their lives for them. We want to empower them to live full lives, where they can stand up for themselves and help others around them, who are less privileged, do the same.

These wonderful change agents need to be fully integrated in our movement locally and nationally. We want them to stay with us forever. They are our new leadership!

I am proud of our young people, as I am of our change agents and our mentors. Ken Colloton and the Executive Committee are leading this work with great vision and strong courage. I thank God for them.

On January 8th we will send out the Playbook for 2014, our collective YMCA work plan, which is an invitation to join us fully in this biggest of all projects.

God bless you all and have an exciting New Year!

Secretary General of the World YMCA

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