Five lucky young people from YMCA Whittlesea were chosen to represent our organisation in London for the Y’s 175th birthday. Andrew Lozanovski, John Walker, Jonathon Santamaria, Phoebe Green and Steph Ferguson flew out in early August to join over 3000 young YMCA staff and volunteers representing over 100 countries. The event showcased the differences and similarities we share across the globe at our Y’s as well as discuss some of the most important issues facing our societies.
Our very own Jonathan Santamaria presented a workshop in front of a packed room addressing the ‘WhyNot’ program, which received excellent feedback. Each of our five young people came back in awe at the power of inspired young people, and they hope to install change into their respective areas of work at Y Whittlesea.
YMCA 175 Highlights
“Two weeks ago I was one of 5 emerging leaders that represented YMCA Whittlesea on the global stage as part of a 48 person strong Australian delegation at YMCA 175.
From the opening ceremony, it was clear that this event was going to be a bigger occasion than any of us could ever imagine. Amongst the amazing performances, TED talks and keynotes from the youth envoy to the United Nations and President of the UN General Assembly. The biggest sense of occasion came as the 3000+ delegates welcomed over 119 nations flags into the arena. As each nation passionately applauded for their flag, the largest collective cheer was reserved for the LGBTI flag and flag for displaced peoples, a signal that reinforced that this conference was a welcome space for all people. (You can see recordings of the opening ceremony, anniversary celebration and other keynotes here).
On a personal level, it was very humbling to co-host a workshop that introduced the WhyNot? platform to the global movement. The session was so well attended that they had to stop letting people in and after our workshop it was clear that the movement is looking to YMCA Australia and the WhyNot Editorial Committee to model best practice when it comes to YMCA providing digital spaces that empower and inspire young people.
For Steph, Phoebe, Andrew, John and I this experience has certainly opened our eyes to the amazing work that the YMCA does globally to empower and inspire young people. While our learnings and takeaways are too numerous to list here, we have already begun to collate our learnings from the amazing event and once everyone is back we will share them with the association and the rest of the movement.
We’d like to once again thank the board for providing us with this amazing opportunity.
“YMCA 175 was without a doubt a once in a lifetime experience. Me, being 22 years old with only 2 years of work experience with the YMCA, was awestruck by the inspirational history and message of my work-place. Everyone who attended was so friendly, willing to listen and learn, and had such a passion for leading the future of the Y in the right direction. Those 4 days were truly eye opening to the potential and the opportunity that the Y presents. I am so happy and humbled to have been a part of this piece of Y history.
The speakers at this conference were incredibly knowledgeable and consummate professionals. The most notable speakers for me were the motivational speakers in the opening and closing plenaries. Keynote speakers Christine Ntim, Ziad Ahmed, and John Loughton emphasised the potential the youth of the world hold, and just how much change we are capable of. All 3 of these speakers were young themselves when beginning to chase their own goals and tackle issues relating to them and their communities. To know that simply telling your story and playing to your strengths is the beginning for anyone and their goals is so empowering, especially for me. Even though I am just a coach, I know now I can still make so much change.
Brushing shoulders with CEO’s, co-founders, activists, entrepreneurs and motivational speakers from across the globe both in an informal and formal setting was so much fun. Anyone would think that a work conference would be a snooze fest, but there were literal mosh pits forming at the stage when musicians would begin. There were crowds roaring when a speaker finished a presentation. Delegates wore uniforms and badges and pins with pride. There was definitely a competitive nature with who traded the most pins; a competition I definitely lost, but so much more was gained.”
I went into the experience not knowing exactly what I would get out of it, but understanding that it was going to provide me with an opportunity to firstly network and meet some amazing people that are doing great work not only across Australia, but around the whole world. The second thing that I knew, was that it would take me out of my comfort zone, it would broaden my understanding of key global issues and have a profound effect on my own personal development.
So, here’s a few topics to speak about on your next lunch break or to mull over your next cup of coffee:
· We all have mental health, some good some bad.
· Whether we know it or not, we all know someone that is struggling with their mental health right now.
· Ask “How are you?” Then ask “How are you, really?”