Worldwide YMCA leaders meet online to discuss the journey through Covid and beyond

Date: 30 September 2020

 “Either we just find a way to keep going, or we step up and play our part in what I’m calling the world’s great ‘Re-set’, which is being planned and executed all around us”, said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Sanvee on 22 September, as 65 National General Secretaries – over half of the global YMCA Movement – met online.

They discussed mission-driven scenario planning in the critical time of Covid now and beyond, as well as the issue of racism, and key governance and operational issues.

Kristel Van der Elst, CEO of the Global Foresight Group, talked about the need for strategic foresight as a way to productively engage with the future.

Kevin Washington, CEO of YMCA said that “Before the YMCA can broadly and effectively address systemic racism in the communities in which we operate, we need to start with ourselves”.

Carlos Sanvee laid down a challenge to the global YMCA which has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, with 40% of national movements and 50% of local YMCAs reporting at least a 50% drop in income in 2020.

Seize the moment, he said, and reimagine for the future.  Equating three defensive Covid measures with three new directions for the YMCA, he linked ‘physical distancing’ with the imperative for YMCA to make new and creative use of both physical and digital space; ‘hand sanitising’ with the need for financial rigour and diversification; and ‘mask-wearing’ as an opportunity, with or without masks, for YMCA’s identity to be seen to be squarely focussed on serving young people.

“The appetite for real change in this Movement is out there”, said Melinda Crole, CEO of YMCA Australia.  “And change will happen to us, if we don’t stand up and be strong and be brave and be bold. We are so much more similar than we are different.”

The group also discussed the findings of the Padare series on reimagining the YMCA through Covid and beyond, the upcoming Youth led Solutions summit (12-23 October), the progress of the latest cohort of youth leaders trained under the World YMCA Change Agents programme, and more.