World YMCA celebrates International Youth Day 2018

Date: 08 August 2018

The theme for the UN International Youth Day 2018 is Safe Spaces For Youth.

Inclusion and diversity is at the core of the YMCA.

The World YMCA aims to empower all young people without discrimination. The YMCA, as the world’s oldest and largest youth movement, supports International Youth Day and the creation of more Safe Spaces for Young People.

International Youth Day 2018 aims to promote youth engagement and empowerment by exploring the role of safe spaces in contributing to freedom of expression, mutual respect and constructive dialogue. The availability and accessibility of physical and virtual safe spaces can enhance young people’s potential by providing common ground and opportunities for innovation and creativity.

“Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth”, the UN reports.

The YMCA movement recently made significant steps to promote social inclusion and non-discrimination for all people within the YMCA. At the 19th YMCA World Council the movement received a Report from its Learning Group in response to a resolution from the 18th World Council.

The Report is the result of two years of research and consultation on how to facilitate a Safe Space discussion abiding to the UN Human Rights Declaration to strive courageously against discrimination.

Central to this Report was the World YMCA Value Statement on Inclusion. This statement is not prescriptive and non-binding for any member movement, in accordance with World YMCA Constitution. Each member movement is encouraged to embrace Challenge 21’s invitation to engage with their needs according to their local reality. As the preamble states, “Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context” so we demonstrate our Christian and ecumenical position of being open, loving and inclusive of all.

Supporting the Value Statement is a methodology for YMCAs to use to conduct Safe Spaces. The Report, Value Statement and Methodology can be read CLICK HERE

The World YMCA statement builds on the YMCA principles from its Paris Basis where is states “That they all be one.” John 17:21.

We fully support International Youth Day and the creation of Safe Spaces for Youth.

Warm regards,

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik – Secretary General


Diversity around the globe was accepted in the founding document of the World Alliance of YMCAs in 1855, where it is stated that no issues, however important they may be, shall divide the YMCA. The focus is on unity in Christ – “that they all may be one.”

Therefore – diversity and inclusion are core to the YMCA movement.
Therefore – the YMCA movement is open and inclusive of all people regardless of their ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.

However, we admit that we are not perfect in demonstrating God’s unconditional love, and that it is an ongoing process to become fully inclusive in order to improve our service to humanity.

Therefore the YMCA movement must strive courageously against any discriminatory behaviour and will always abide by the UN Human Rights Declaration.”