The St Kilda Pride March is an annual event held in Melbourne that celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies standing for all things diversity, equality and inclusion. Close to 11,000 people joined the parade this past February which marked the 25th year of this celebration.
Jessica, a YMCA Change Agent from this cohort, decided to bring YMCA to the event as part of her Change Agent project. “The day is a family-friendly event and people of all ages, abilities and orientations are welcome,” she said. “Our YMCA has been running various inclusive programmes and activities, it felt like the right time for us to stand up, be bold and show support for this community.”
Jessica coordinated this project for several months setting up a project team and their own line of Pride YMCA merchandise.
As a result, 65 people from YMCA Victoria, including volunteers, staff members and YMCA supporters, participated in the event to show their support and celebrate Pride. They marched and danced through the streets of St Kilda, singing along to the YMCA anthem from the Village People. Melinda Crole, the YMCA Australia CEO, was also present.
“There was magic in the air,” Jessica said. “We were all so happy and many of us so emotional from the experience. We were there, we were being seen and we were being celebrated for who we are. All of the work and effort that went into the creation of this project could not have been more worth it on the day, when we all felt so empowered as young people and so heard. I urge other YMCAs to listen to their young people and to celebrate diversity and inclusion just as we did.”