Celebrating 175 Years of Global Impact

Last summer more than a dozen students from across Western New York took the trip of a lifetime to the birthplace of the YMCA – London, England. There they joined nearly 700 of their peers for YMCA 175, a global event designed to give youth a platform to discuss solutions to important social challenges and build cross-cultural relationships. The conference also celebrated an important milestone – the YMCA’s 175th birthday.

Each of the 13 delegates were YMCA participants, volunteers, and/or staff who were nominated for the trip based on their impressive leadership qualities and involvement in their YMCA branch. During their time at YMCA 175, they took part in workshops that focused on social issues that affect communities around the world and learned how the YMCA carries out its mission in the more than 119 countries it serves.

“I attended several workshops on topics such as mental health, women’s rights, and inclusiveness,” says Isabel Garcia, a staff member at YMCA Camp Weona who traveled to London. “My goal is to incorporate the lessons I learned to help kids feel more included in camp.”

“It was really inspiring to get to know so many youth leaders from around the world and learn things that we can bring back home with us and use in our own lives,” says Sean Heffley. “It was amazing to see how certain issues are shared across the globe, and how the Y operates in different countries based on the needs of the community. The conferences really helped me gain a new perspective and see things in a new way.”

These 13 change-makers embody all that the Y stands for and we are confident that they will continue to use what they’ve learned in London to make a positive impact in their communities and live out the YMCA’s mission for years to come.