With the 18 February deadline fast approaching for ‘earlybird’ registration for the 20th YMCA World Council, 160 members of the YMCA Movement came together for a World Council information webinar on 9 February 2022, “144 days before kick-off” as World YMCA President Patricia Pelton said.
“I can confidently say that unless something goes truly awry, then our physical event will go ahead in Aarhus, Denmark. What is more, it will go ahead with the highest standards of health and safety”, she said. “From the 18th World Council in Chiang Mai in 2018, to YMCA 175 in London in 2019, to the Leaders Talks and the Padare roundtables in the thick of Covid in 2020, to our Movement-wide consultation on Vision 2030 in 2021 …. all of them have pointed towards World Council 2022.
We have worked hard to make this an amazing World Council, keeping the best of what went before, and adding new elements. It’s for everyone, in the YMCA family and beyond. It’s for YMCA staff and volunteers, managers and front-line workers, young leaders, partners and supporters. As the logo says, as we all must say: ‘let’s Ignite!’”
Christine Lund, of World Council hosts YMCA Denmark, introduced the venue Aarhus, ‘the city of smiles’ and ‘the smallest big city in the world’. “YMCA Denmark is hosting this event to strengthen its global identity within the global YMCA, as a youth-led, volunteer-led movement. The sun goes down at 11pm in Aarhus in July, so we will carry on until then”, she said.
Kerry Reilly, National General Secretary of YMCA Scotland presented the outlines of the Programme for the week. “Everything has been created in the context of our Movement-wide Vision 2030”, she said. “One shared vision, one shared mission and four shared priority pillars, to take us to 2030.” She described the Co-Lab sessions as “the spaces where we will create, reflect and shape the implementation of YMCA Vision 2030”.
Tom Valentine, Vice President, International, at Y USA, said: “These last Covid years, we have missed everyone tremendously, so we are coming in force, with 120 leaders younger and older, and over 200 people online. We will be training young leaders in taking on their global responsibility”.
Mike Bromfield, the programme manager for the online programme, said “the new ‘virtual’ element means that this could be the most inclusive and accessible YMCA World Council in our history – a unique opportunity to open doors to more young people and more partners, internal and external”. He set out the main components of the online programme.
Bolortuya Dondovsambuu, President of YMCA Mongolia, described World Council as where “the whole YMCA family from around the world gathers to deepen its friendship”.
Suzanne Watson, Systems Manager for the World Council within World YMCA, gave details about measures being taken before and during World Council on Covid-19. “Vaccination will be a condition for participation in the event”, she said, and she fielded several questions on the subject in a question and answer exchange.
Cris Ristov of YMCA Brazil, and a member of the World YMCA Executive Committee, called World Council “a life changing experience. You meet intelligent people who know what they’re talking about in addressing the challenges faced by young people today”.
The meeting also heard details on registration procedures, and communications. “Please, help us communicate the event and use the #YMCAignite 2022 hashtag”, said John Phillips of World YMCA. “It’s your event; it’s our event.”