Seizing the opportunity in crisis



We are reimagining the YMCA – and the world – in the face of Covid: it’s a golden opportunity for us all to reset and ensure that young people are put first.

September 2020 saw two ‘Sensemaking’ sessions, distilling all the wisdom and inspiration of the nine ‘Padare’ virtual round tables of July and August 2020 which involved some 190 people in 56 countries.

During the session facilitated by Forum 4 the Future, artist Viola Clark drew these compelling images, as she listened to the online debates and ‘made sense of the sense-makers’.

The immediate result of the Padare talks will be a YMCA Adaptability Handbook to appear later this year, outlining the best and most resilient YMCA approaches to the current Covid crisis.

The longer-term result will feed into the YMCA’s ‘North Star’ process, its collective vision as it approaches its 200th anniversary with one abiding imperative: to serve young people.

To inform the Sensemaking sessions, Renata Ferrari, Senior Director of Global Advancement at YMCA USA, had prepared a comprehensive summary of the talks, which had looked at three questions: How can YMCA evolve as a trusted partner for young people, building their resilience in the face of global crisis? How can YMCA build a sustainable economic and financial recovery from this crisis? How can YMCA become an ‘adaptive’ organisation, moving with the times and the needs?

The Sensemakers synthesised both the opportunities and the threats facing young people – and specifically the YMCA – at this time. Given the massive restrictions now imposed by Covid, they grappled with serious questions facing the Movement which has always been built around face-to-face contact for and with young people.

They came together with “an abiding sense of opportunity and hope, as the World YMCA and the national YMCA Movements join a wider global community of governments, business and civil society, in reimagining and ‘re-setting’ in the pursuit of a just, peaceful, equitable world in which everyone counts”, said Carlos Sanvee, Secretary General of the World YMCA.

“No institution on its own can bring the world through the challenges we are facing now – only community can do this, by coming together in humility, wisdom, and strength. A Padare!” said Janele Nelson, Mission Director, YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, Washington State, USA.