|Founded||6 June 1844|
|Founder||Sir George Williams|
|Founded at||London, England|
|Type||International non-governmental organization|
YMCA, sometimes regionally called the Y, is a worldwide youth organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, with more than 64 million beneficiaries in 120 countries. It was founded on 6 June 1844 by Sir George Williams in London, originally as the Young Men's Christian Association, and aims to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy "body, mind, and spirit".
From its inception, it grew rapidly and ultimately became a worldwide movement founded on the principles of muscular Christianity. Local YMCAs deliver projects and services focused on youth development through a wide variety of youth activities, including providing athletic facilities, holding classes for a wide variety of skills, promoting Christianity, and humanitarian work.
YMCA is a non-governmental federation, with each independent local YMCA affiliated with its national organization. The national organizations, in turn, are part of both an Area Alliance (Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada) and the World Alliance of YMCAs (World YMCA). Subsequently, all YMCAs are unique, while following certain shared aims, such as the Paris Basis.
They were concerned about the lack of healthy activities for young men in major cities; the options available were usually taverns and brothels. Williams' idea grew out of meetings he held for prayer and Bible-reading among his fellow workers in a business in the city of London, and on 6 June 1844, he held the first meeting that led to the founding of YMCA with the purpose of "the improving of the spiritual condition of young men engaged in the drapery, embroidery, and other trades." Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury served as YMCA's first president from 1851 until his death in 1885.
By 1845, YMCA started a popular series of lectures held that went on to be held at Exeter Hall, London, from 1848, and the lectures started being published the following year, with the series ran until 1865.
YMCA was associated with Industrialisation and the movement of young people to cities to work. YMCA "combined preaching in the streets and the distribution of religious tracts with a social ministry. Philanthropists saw them as places for wholesome recreation that would preserve youth from the temptations of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution and that would promote good citizenship."
In part thanks to using the Great Exhibition of 1851 to spread the idea of YMCA, by later that year there were YMCAs in the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United States.
The idea of creating a truly global movement with an international headquarters was led by Henry Dunant, Secretary of YMCA Geneva, who would later go on to found the International Committee of the Red Cross and win the first Nobel Peace Prize. Dunant successfully convinced YMCA Paris to organise the first YMCA World Conference. The Conference took place in August 1855, bringing together 99 young delegates from nine countries, held before the Exposition Universelle (1855). They discussed joining together in a federation to enhance cooperation amongst individual YMCA societies. This marked the beginning of the World Alliance of YMCAs. The conference adopted the Paris Basis, a common mission for all present and future national YMCAs. Its motto was taken from the Bible, "That they all may be one" (John 17:21).
Other ecumenical bodies, such as the World YWCA, the World Council of Churches, and the World Student Christian Federation have reflected elements of the Paris Basis in their founding mission statements. In 1865, the Fourth World Conference of YMCAs, held in Germany, affirmed the importance of developing the whole individual in spirit, mind, and body. The concept of physical work through sports, a new concept for the time, was also recognized as part of this "muscular Christianity".
Two themes resonated during the council: the need to respect the local autonomy of YMCA societies, and the purpose of YMCA: to unite all young, male Christians for the extension and expansion of the Kingdom of God. The former idea is expressed in the preamble:
The delegates of various Young Men's Christian Associations of Europe and America, assembled in Conference at Paris, the 22 August 1855 feeling that they are one in principle and in operation, recommend to their respective Societies to recognize with them the unity existing among their Associations, and while preserving a complete independence as to their particular organization and modes of action, to form a Confederation of secession on the following fundamental principle, such principle to be regarded as the basis of admission of other Societies in future.
1870s to 1910s
YMCA was very influential during the 1870s and the 1930s, during which times it most successfully promoted "evangelical Christianity in weekday and Sunday services, while promoting good sportsmanship in athletic contests in gyms (where basketball and volleyball were invented) and swimming pools." Later in this period, and continuing on through the 20th century, YMCA had "become interdenominational and more concerned with promoting morality and good citizenship than a distinctive interpretation of Christianity." Starting before the American Civil War, YMCA provided nursing, shelter, and other support in wartime.
In 1878, the World YMCA offices were established in Geneva, Switzerland by Dunant. Later, in 1900, North American YMCAs, in collaboration with the World YMCA, set up centres to work with emigrants in European ports, as millions of people were leaving for the USA. In 1880, YMCA became the first national organization to adopt a strict policy of equal gender representation in committees and national boards, with Norway being the country that first adopted it.
In 1885, Camp Baldhead (later known as Camp Dudley), the first residential camp in the United States and North America, was established by George A. Sanford and Sumner F. Dudley, both of whom worked for YMCA. The camp, originally located near Orange Lake in New Jersey, moved to Lake Wawayanda in Sussex County the following year, and then to the shore of Lake Champlain near Westport, New York, in 1891. By 1910, YMCA was an early influence upon scouting, including the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and German Scouting. Edgar M. Robinson, a Chicago-area YMCA administrator, worked at YMCA while also becoming the BSA's first director.
In 1916, K. T. Paul became the first Indian national general secretary of India. Paul had started rural development programs for self-reliance of marginal farmers, through co-operatives and credit societies. These programmes became very popular. He also coined the term "rural reconstruction", and many of the principles he developed were later incorporated into the government's nationwide community development programs. In 1923, Y. C. James Yen, of YMCA China, devised the "thousand character system", based on pilot projects in education. The method also became very popular, and in 1923, it led to the founding of the Chinese National Association of the Mass Education Movement. In 1878, YMCA was organized inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem and the current landmark building was dedicated by General Lord Allenby in 1933 during the British Mandate of Palestine.
The World Wars
Within ten days of the declaration of World War I, YMCA had established no fewer than 250 recreation centres, also known as huts, in the United Kingdom, and would go on to build temporary huts across Europe to support both soldiers and civilians alike, run by thousands of volunteers. Notable supporters and volunteers included Clementine Churchill (for which she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1918), Oswald Chambers and Robert and Olave Baden-Powell. Within the first month the YMCA Women's Auxiliary was formed, and Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein would go on to become a notable member and chairman of its organising committee.
During World War I, YMCA raised and spent over $155 million on welfare efforts for American soldiers. It deployed over 25,000 staff in military units and bases from Siberia to Egypt to France. They took over the military's morale and comfort operations worldwide. Irving Berlin wrote Yip Yip Yaphank, a revue that included a song entitled "I Can Always Find a Little Sunshine in the YMCA". Frances Gulick was a YMCA worker stationed in France during World War I who received a United States Army citation for valour and courage on the field.
During World War II, YMCA was involved in supporting millions of POWs and in supporting Japanese Americans in internment camps. This help included helping young men leave the camps to attend Springfield College and providing youth activities in the camps. In addition, YMCA was one of seven organizations that helped to found the USO.
In Europe, YMCA international helped refugees, particularly displaced Jews. Sometimes YMCA participated in escape operations. Mostly, however, its role was limited to providing relief packages to refugees.
It was also involved in war work with displaced persons and refugees. It set up War Prisoners Aid to support prisoners of war by providing sports equipment, musical instruments, art materials, radios, gramophones, eating utensils, and other items.
From the 1940s
YMCA Motion Picture Bureau, renamed Association Films in 1946, was one of the nation's largest non-theatrical distribution companies. In 1947 the World YMCA gained special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In 1955 the first black President of the World YMCA, Charles Dunbar Sherman from Liberia, was elected. At 37 years, he was also the youngest president in World YMCA history. In 1959 YMCA of the USA developed the first nationally organized scuba diving course and certified their first skin and scuba diving instructors. By 1974, YMCA had set up a curriculum to begin teaching cave diving.
In 1973 the Sixth World Council in Kampala, Uganda, became the first World Council in Africa, hosted by Uganda YMCA. It reaffirmed the Paris Basis and adopted a declaration of principles, known as the Kampala Principles. It include the principles of justice, creativity and honesty. It stated what had become obvious: that a global viewpoint was more necessary. It also recognized that YMCA and its national member organizations would have to take political stands, particularly in international challenges and crises.
In 1976, YMCA of the USA appointed Violet King Henry to Executive Director to its Organizational Development Group, making her the first woman named to a senior management position with the American national YMCA.
In 1985 the World Council of YMCAs passed a resolution against apartheid, and anti-apartheid campaigns were formed under the leadership of Lee Soo-Min (Korea), the first Asian secretary general of the World YMCA.
Challenge 21 and recent years
In 1998 the 14th World Council of YMCAs in Germany adopted "Challenge 21", intended to place more focus on global challenges, such as gender equality, sustainable development, war and peace, fair distribution, and the challenges of globalization, racism, and HIV/AIDS.
Affirming the Paris Basis adopted in 1855, as the ongoing foundation statement of the mission of YMCA, at the threshold of the third millennium, we declare that YMCA is a worldwide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people and that it seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.
Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context.
These principles are an evolution of the Kampala Principles
- Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities.
- Empowering all to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society.
- Advocating for and promoting the rights of and upholding the rights of children.
- Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal.
- Committing to work in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities.
- Seeking to be mediators and reconciles in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their own self-determination.
- Defending God's creation against all that would destroy it and preserving and protecting the earth's resources for coming generations. To face these challenges, YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.— Challenge 21, World Alliance of YMCAs
In 2002, the World Council in Oaxtepec, Morelos, in Mexico, called for a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis. On 12 July 2010, YMCA of the USA rebranded its name to the popular nickname "The Y" and revised the iconic red and black logo to create five colored versions. Today, YMCAs are open to all, regardless of ability, age, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic background.
During the 19th World Council meeting in 2018 in Chiang Mai, Carlos Sanvee from Togo became the first African and current Secretary General of the World YMCA. During the same World Council meeting, Patricia Pelton emerged as the first female President of the YMCA.
YMCA's 175th anniversary in 2019 was celebrated with a global gathering of the organisation's young leaders at ExCeL London from 4 to 7 August, with 3,200 people from 100 countries. The event celebrated youth leadership, and elevated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It was attended by guests including the Jayathma Wickramanayake on behalf of Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth and María Fernanda Espinosa, the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
A federated model of governance has created a diversity of YMCA programmes and services, with YMCAs in different countries and communities offering vastly different programming in response to local community needs. Financial support for local associations is derived from programme fees, membership dues, community chests, foundation grants, charitable contributions, sustaining memberships, and corporate sponsors.
YMCA globally operates on a federation model, with each independent local YMCA affiliated with its national organization, known as a National Council. The national organizations, in turn, are affiliated to both an Area Alliance (Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, and Canada) and the World YMCA. The World YMCA is the highest affiliation body. Each local, national and regional YMCA is independent of each other, but local, regional and international cooperation, partnerships and collaborations are part of the organizations work. Each National Council is led by a National General Secretary, a role that is akin to that of a CEO.
Ever since the first World Conference in August 1855, in Paris, the World YMCA has convened a World Conference (later named World Council) every three to four years and is YMCA's highest decision making forum. Every National Council sends a delegation who hold a number of votes, which are dependent on the financial turnover of that National Council. The World Council is “responsible for setting the policies and direction of the World YMCA, electing its Officers and Executive Committee, evaluating the work of the last four years, and deliberating on priorities for the next quadrennium". The next World Council will take place in 2022 in Aarhus, Denmark.
|1||1855||First World Conference||Paris||Second French Empire|
|2||1858||Second World Conference||Geneva||Switzerland|
|3||1862||Third World Conference||London||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|
|4||1865||Fourth World Conference||Elberfeld||Kingdom of Prussia|
|5||1867||Fifth World Conference||Paris||Second French Empire|
|6||1872||Sixth World Conference||Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|7||1875||Seventh World Conference||Hamburg||German Empire|
|8||1878||Eighth World Conference||Geneva||Switzerland|
|9||1881||Ninth World Conference||London||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|
|10||1884||10th World Conference||Berlin||German Empire|
|11||1888||11th World Conference||Stockholm||Sweden|
|12||1891||12th World Conference||Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|13||1894||13th World Conference||London||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|
|14||1898||14th World Conference||Basel||German Empire|
|15||1902||15th World Conference||Christiania||Norway|
|16||1905||16th World Conference||Paris||French Third Republic|
|17||1909||17th World Conference||Elberfeld||German Empire|
|18||1913||18th World Conference||Edinburgh||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland|
|19||1926||19th World Conference||Helsingfors||Finland|
|20||1931||20th World Conference||Cleveland||USA|
|21||1937||21st World Conference||Mysore||British Raj|
|22||1955||First World Council||Paris||French Fourth Republic|
|23||1957||Second World Council||Kassel||West Germany|
|24||1961||Third World Council||Geneva||Switzerland|
|25||1965||Fourth World Council||Tozanso||Japan|
|26||1969||Fifth World Council||Nottingham||United Kingdom|
|27||1973||Sixth World Council||Kampala||Uganda|
|28||1977||Seventh World Council||Buenos Aires||Argentina|
|29||1981||Eighth World Council||Estes Park, Colorado||USA|
|30, 31||1985||Ninth and 10th World Council||Nyborg||Denmark|
|32||1988||11th World Council||Aruba||Aruba|
|33||1991||12th World Council||Seoul||South Korea|
|34||1994||13th World Council||Coventry||United Kingdom|
|35||1998||14th World Council||Frechen||Germany|
|36||2002||15th World Council||Mexico City||Mexico|
|37||2006||16th World Council||South Africa|
|38||2010||17th World Council||Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|39||2014||18th World Council||Estes Park, Colorado||USA|
|40||2018||19th World Council||Chiang Mai||Thailand|
|41||2022||20th World Council||Aarhus||Denmark|
In 1881, 26 years after its foundation, the official emblem of the World Alliance of YMCAs was adopted, at the 9th International YMCA World Conference, in London. The circular emblem is made up of five segments, one for each continent. The segments are held together by small monograms of YMCA in different languages. As early as 1881, YMCA leaders believed the Movement could be truly international and united across borders. In the center is a larger monogram of X and P, Chi and Rho, Christ's name, as used by early Christians. An open Bible sits on top of the monogram, showing John XVII, Verse 21, "that they all may be one". This was to remind YMCAs that Christ is at the center of the Movement, a source of strength, hope and unity, binding them all together.
In 1891 Luther Gulick (physician), a physical education director at YMCA of the USA, introduced a new emblem to represent YMCA, an inverted red triangle. Each of the triangle's sides represented 'the whole man' and a different aspect of YMCA's work as recognised by Gulick; Mind, Body and Spirit. So significant was the red triangle, it would go on to become a familiar symbol of YMCA's work on the home front and around the world during WW1 and WW2. The red triangle is still used as part of many local, national and regional YMCA logos today.
YMCAs around the world offer various types of accommodation. In some places this takes the form of budget accommodation available to the public such as youth hostels, or hotels which in turn generate income for other charitable activities. In England and Wales, YMCAs offer supported accommodation for vulnerable and homeless young people.
Education and Academia
Multiple colleges and universities have historically had connections to YMCA. Springfield College, of Springfield, Massachusetts, was founded in 1885 as an international training school for YMCA Professionals, while one of the two schools that eventually became Concordia University—Sir George Williams College—started from night courses offered at the Montreal YMCA. Northeastern University began out of a YMCA in Boston, and Franklin University began as YMCA School of Commerce. San Francisco's Golden Gate University traces its roots to the founding of YMCA Night School on 1 November 1881. Detroit College of Law, now the Michigan State University College of Law, was founded with a strong connection to the Detroit, Michigan YMCA. It had a 99-year lease on the site, and it was only when it expired that the college moved to East Lansing, Michigan. Youngstown State University traces its roots to the establishment of a law school by the local YMCA in 1908. The Nashville School of Law was YMCA Night Law School until November 1986, having offered law classes since 1911 and the degree of Juris Doctor since January 1927. YMCA pioneered the concept of night school, providing educational opportunities for people with full-time employment. Many YMCAs offer ESL programs, alternative high school, day care, and summer camp programs. In India, YMCA University of Science and Technology Faridabad was founded in 1969. It offers various program-related to science and engineering.
American high school students have a chance to participate in YMCA Youth and Government, wherein clubs of children representing each YMCA community convene annually in their respective state legislatures to "take over the State Capitol for a day."
American students in Title One public schools are sometimes eligible to join a tutoring program through YMCA called Y Learning. This program is used to help low-income students who are struggling in school complete their homework with help from tutors and receive a snack as well as a safe place to be after school. Y Learning operates under the main mission of bridging achievements gaps and providing essential resources to help underprivileged students thrive in school.
The International Coalition of YMCA Universities brings together universities from all over the world, including Brazil, England, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Uruguay, USA, and Venezuela. The universities offer a wide variety of courses on different levels.
Health and Wellbeing
In 1891 James Naismith, a Canadian American, invented Basketball while studying at YMCA International Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts (later to be named Springfield College). Naismith had been asked to invent a new game in an attempt to interest pupils in physical exercise. The game had to be interesting, easy to learn, and easy to play indoors in winter. In 1895, William G. Morgan from YMCA of Holyoke, Massachusetts, invented the sport of Volleyball as a slower paced alternative sport, in which the older YMCA members could participate. In 1930, Juan Carlos Ceriani from YMCA of Montevideo, Uruguay, invented the sport of futsal, an indoor version of football, having been created in synthesis with the rules of the three indoor sports of handball, basketball and water polo.
The organization is committed to public health in different ways. It organizes fitness and wellness as well as help and awareness programs. One of the programs is the Diabetes Prevention Program, where trained staff members help sick persons to make their lives healthy and active.
Basketball was invented at YMCA, in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891 by Dr. James Naismith, a clergyman, educator and physician. Naismith was asked to create an indoor "athletic distraction" to keep rowdy youth busy in the cold New England winter months. Luther Gulick (physician), the head of Springfield YMCA gave Naismith two weeks to come up with a game to occupy a particularly incorrigible group. Naismith decided the game had to be physically active, simple to understand and would have minimal physical roughness.
The first contest was played at the International YMCA Training School in December 1891. During those earliest games the school's custodian, "whose antipathy to the students was well known," retrieved successful shots from the baskets — using a ladder.  The original game was played with a soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to the balcony of Springfield YMCA. The game was an immediate hit, although originally the baskets still had their bottoms, and the ball had to be manually retrieved after each score, considerably slowing play. It was mostly a passing game, and dribbling did not become a major part of the game until much later, when the ball was improved to its present form.
Gulick worked with Naismith to spread the sport, chairing the Basketball Committee of the Amateur Athletic Union (1895–1905) and representing the United States Olympic Committee during the 1908 Olympic Games. Naismith and his wife attended the 1936 Summer Olympics when basketball was included for the first time as an Olympic event. For his efforts to increase the popularity of basketball and of physical fitness in general, Gulick was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1959.
Four years after James Naismith invented basketball in Springfield in 1891, William G. Morgan, an instructor at YMCA in Holyoke, Massachusetts, wanted to create a game for older gentlemen which had less physical contact. He borrowed a tennis net, raised it 6 feet, 6 inches above the floor, and invented the game of "mintonette", which could be played by a group of any number and involved volleying a large ball over the net. An observer wisely suggested that a better name for the new sport might be "volleyball".
Racquetball is another YMCA invented sport. Joseph Sobek a tennis, handball and squash player who worked in a rubber manufacturing factory, was dissatisfied with the options for indoor sports in Greenwich, Connecticut. He could not find squash players of his caliber and he did not care particularly for handball, so in 1950 he designed a short, stringed racquet, used a children's toy rubber ball, and created rules for a new game using the handball courts. He called his new sport "paddle rackets". The sport really took off in the 1970s and there are an estimated 15 million players worldwide today.
"Futsal" started in 1930 when Juan Carlos Ceriani [fr], a teacher in Montevideo, Uruguay, created a version of indoor football for recreation in YMCAs. This new sport was originally developed for playing on basketball courts, and a rule book was published in September 1933. Football was already highly popular in the country and after Uruguay won the 1930 World Cup and gold medals in the 1924 and 1928 Summer Olympics, it attracted even more practitioners. Ceriani's goal was to create a team game that could be played indoor or outdoor but that was similar to football.
The YMCA spread the game immediately throughout South America. It was easily played by everyone, everywhere, and in any weather condition, without any difficulty, helping players to stay in shape all year round. These reasons convinced João Lotufo, a Brazilian, to bring this game to his country and adapt it to the needs of physical education.
YMCA camping began in 1885 when Camp Baldhead (later known as Camp Dudley) was established by G.A. Sanford and Sumner F. Dudley on Orange Lake in New Jersey as the first residential camp in North America in operation today. The camp later moved to Lake Champlain near Westport, New York. Camping also had early origins in YMCA movement in Canada with the establishment in 1889 of Big Cove YMCA Camp in Merigomish, Nova Scotia. The Montreal YMCA organization also opened a summer camp named Kamp Kanawana nearby in 1894. In 1919 YMCAs began their Storer Camps chain around the country.
YMCA founded YMCA Press publishing house in Russia in 1900. It moved to Paris after World War I, where it focused on providing intellectual and educational works to Russian émigrés. It perhaps most famously published some of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's books whilst he was imprisoned by the Russian government.
The first YMCA included Bible studies, although the organization has generally moved on to a more holistic approach to youth work. Around six years after its birth, an international YMCA conference in Paris decided that the objective of the organization should become "Christian discipleship developed through a program of religious, educational, social and physical activities" (Binfield 1973:265).
YMCAs in England and Wales offer supported accommodation for vulnerable and homeless young people, mental health services, youth clubs, sports centres, nursery schools and family support and after school clubs. Across England and Wales YMCA supports more than 18,000 young people with homes each year, and is thus one of the largest providers of safe supported accommodation for young people. The vast majority of this accommodation is supported by a range of personal, social and educational services.
The archive of the British YMCA is housed at the University of Birmingham Special Collections. The archive of YMCA Scotland is available at the National Archives of Scotland. YMCA in the United Kingdom consists of three separate National Councils: England & Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. YMCAs in Wales joined YMCA England in 2017, leading to the National Council renaming to YMCA England & Wales.
In Germany (as well as Austria and Switzerland) YMCA is called CVJM, which stands for Christlicher Verein junger Menschen (Christian Association of Young People). Up until 1985 the organisation was called ‘Christlicher Verein Junger Männer’ (Christian Association of Young Men), the name change reflected its activities being accessible to men and women.
YWCA-YMCA of Sweden (Swedish: KFUK-KFUM Sverige) was established in 1966 following a merger of YMCA of Sweden and the YWCA of Sweden. In 2011, the organization decided to use the term KFUM Sverige during promotion where M now stands for människor ("people") instead of män (men) as before. YWCA-YMCA of Sweden has 40,000 members in 140 local associations. Several Swedish YWCA-YMCA associations have been successful in sport.
The first YMCA in North America opened in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on 9 December 1851.
In the United States YMCA is more commonly known as 'The Y' with its national office headquartered in Chicago. It has 2,700 separate organisational entities affiliated to its national office, based in 10,000 locations, working with 21 million people, to "strengthen communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility." It has about 19,000 staff and 600,000 volunteers.
Its major programs include after-school activities, day care, youth work and physical fitness. A large number of its service locations have gyms, weight rooms, swimming pools, and sports courts where basketball and other sports are played.
The first YMCA in the United States opened on 29 December 1851, in Boston, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1851 by Captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan (1800–59), an American seaman and missionary. In 1853 the Reverend Anthony Bowen founded the first YMCA for Colored Men in Washington, D.C. The renamed Anthony Bowen YMCA is still serving the U Street area of Washington. It became a part of YMCA of the city of Washington in 1947. Through the middle part of the 20th century it was associated with homosexual subculture, with the athletic facilities providing cover for closeted individuals.
YMCAs in the USA have been one of the largest charitable nonprofits in the United States, in terms of donations received from the general public, as listed by Forbes magazine. YMCA in the USA is one of the many organizations that espouses muscular Christianity.
YMCA's parent/child programs, under the umbrella program called Y-Guides, (originally called YMCA Indian Guides, Princesses, Braves, and Maidens) have provided structured opportunities for fellowship, camping, and community-building activities (including craft-making and community service) for several generations of parents and kids in kindergarten through third grade.
Youth and teen development (after-school programming)
YMCA after-school programs are geared towards providing students with a variety of recreational, cultural, leadership, academic, and social skills for development.
Until the late 1950s, YMCAs in the United States were built with hotel-like rooms called residences or dormitories. These rooms were built with the young men in mind coming from rural America and many foreign-born young men arriving to the new cities. The rooms became a significant part of American culture, known as an inexpensive and safe place for a visitor to stay in an unfamiliar city (as, for example, in the 1978 Village People song "Y.M.C.A."). In 1940, there were about 100,000 rooms at YMCAs, more than any hotel chain. By 2006, YMCAs with residences had become relatively rare in the US, but many still remain. YMCA of Greater Seattle turned its former residence into transitional housing for former foster care and currently homeless youth, aged 18 to 25. This YMCA operates six transitional housing programs and 20 studio apartments. These services are offered at their Young Adult drop-in center in Seattle, Washington.
YMCA Canada was established over 160 years ago as a charity dedicated to the health of both individuals and communities. YMCA Canada values inclusiveness and accessibility and serves people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through all stages of life. YMCA Canada is a federation of YMCAs and YMCA-YWCAs who work together to achieve common goals for improving the health of Canadians. Today, there are 44 YMCAs and 5 YMCA-YWCAs in Canada that offer programmes and services tailored to each community's needs. Together, they serve 2 million people in more than 1,000 communities across Canada—and they keep growing.
The national YMCA federation in Canada expresses its statement of purpose:
YMCA in Canada is dedicated to the growth of all persons in spirit, mind and body, and to their sense of responsibility to each other and the global community.
YMCAs are a centre of community where friendships are formed and family ties are strengthened. Available programs include:
- Children and Youth
- Health, Fitness and Recreation
- Day and Resident Camping
- Employment Training
- Community Outreach and Newcomer Services
- International Development and Education
- Leadership Development and Recognition
Through YMCA financial assistance programs, YMCA is accessible to all.
Its archives are held by Library and Archives Canada. Until 1912, when Canadian YMCAs formed their own national council, YMCAs were jointly administered by the International Committee of the Young Men's Christian Associations of North America.
Mexico's first YMCA branch opened in Mexico City in 1902 for the American community. By 1904, there were two more branches in Mexico City and one branch established in Monterrey. In 1907, another branch in Chihuahua was set up and then one YMCA in Tampico. In Mexico, YMCA organized physical activity, individual development, and national progress. There was advertising for YMCA programs that would help young men gain life skills and YMCA also had some activities for women. For example, an excursion to Xochimilco in 1910 featured races for boys and girls and indoor baseball for everyone. Although, YMCA had very little influence on rural Mexico until after the Mexican Revolution.
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In 1904, a letter was written by the chief engineer of the Panama Canal Zone, John Findley Wallace, to Admiral J.G. Walker, chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission, recommending that YMCA be brought to the Canal Zone. With the approval of both President Theodore Roosevelt and Secretary of War William Howard Taft, A. Bruce Minear, an experienced secretary, was sent to organize the association work in the Canal Zone. Construction was started on YMCA clubhouses in Culebra, Empire, Gorgona, and Cristobal, Panama, as well as in Panama City. These clubhouses were operated by YMCA for several years and were financed by the Canal Zone, they contained billiard rooms, an assembly room, a reading room, bowling alleys, dark rooms for the camera clubs, gymnastic equipment, an ice cream parlor and soda fountain, and a circulating library. By 1920, there were nine buildings in operation in the Canal Zone.
Panama YMCA was founded on 24 May 1966. The 1968 impeachment of President Marco Aurelio Robles and the ensuing riots and political unrest impacted YMCA's work and the after-school programs at Panama YMCA were cancelled. Use of the school equipment, such as the pool and gym, greatly helped YMCA's ability to continue on with the swimming classes and summer programs. These programs remained popular throughout this time.
In 1983, planning was started for the integration of Panama YMCA and the American Services YMCA (ASYMCA). The integration of the remaining two ASYMCAs, the Balboa Branch and the Cristobal Branch, with the Panama Branch, a merger that was completed in 1990.
YMCA Panama continues its work for the betterment of today's society. In 2005, YMCA Panama inaugurated the new YMCA Panama School located on Colinas del Sol, in the Nuevo Chorrillo District of Arraijan.
YMCA developed in 1902 in Argentina, where it provided support for physical education teachers. YMCA was most notable in encouraging women's sports in South America, and during the early 1900s, YMCA in Argentina highly promoted basketball, swimming, and track and field. There were many victories for the development of sports in Argentina due to YMCA, such as Frederick Dickens, who served as the director of physical education at the Buenos Aires YMCA. Dickens eventually led the Argentine Olympic delegation to Paris in 1924 and Amsterdam in 1928.
YMCA developed in 1893 in Brazil and volleyball was deemed appropriate for women from the beginning. Through the encouragement of YMCA, physical educators promoted women's volleyball in schools like Escola Wenceslau Braz and Colégio Sylvio Leite in Rio. Sports clubs even began to organize events for women because of YMCA's influence.
YMCA Peru has a team of 200 employees and a voluntary body of more than 700 people. The organization describes its mission as "Having a positive impact on the young people so they have the will to transform the Peruvian society". YMCA Peru was created in May 17th, 1920. It have presence in the departments of Lima, Arequipa, and Trujillo.
YMCAs in Africa are united under the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA). The core focus of the organizational work done by the AAYMCA is youth empowerment. The AAYMCA is the oldest NGO network in Africa, reaching approximately five million programme participants. The first YMCA in Africa was established in Liberia in 1881, and the AAYMCA was founded in 1977 as the umbrella body for all national movements on the continent. The AAYMCA collaborates with national movements to conduct research, develop localized as well as continental programming, monitor and evaluate progress, and communicate impact of youth development work undertaken on the continent. From 2015, the Africa Alliance of YMCAs has aligned much of its programmatic work to some of the goals set out by the African Union's Agenda 2063 Development Plan in order to contribute towards the achievement of the ideals envisioned by the African Renaissance.
Subject to Citizen Change Model
Many of the Africa YMCA projects and programmes are influenced by the Subject to Citizen (S2C) Change Model. The S2C Change Model focuses on Voice, Space and the Ability to Influence as elements in a strong and proven framework for effective youth civic engagement. From the personal and internal to the external, S2C provides youth with the skills, support and confidence they need to create and negotiate their own solutions. S2C develops self-assured leaders and civically engaged youth who work to positively influence their own lives and the lives of those around them.
African YMCA movements
Active movements: Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Associate movements: Niger, Rwanda, South Sudan
Movements in formation: Malawi
YMCA Hong Kong was established in 1901, being separated into two separate organizations in 1908, split across linguistic lines: "YMCA of Hong Kong" and "Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong". YMCA Hong Kong headquarters has occupied its current location at 22 Salisbury road, Tsim Sha Tsui since 1922. YMCA Hong Kong established the College of Continuing Education in 1996 and YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College in 2003.
Nobel Peace Prize laureates
- 1901: Henry Dunant, who co-founded the Geneva YMCA in 1852 and was one of the founders of the World YMCA, was awarded the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize for founding the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1863, and inspiring the Geneva Conventions (Conventions de Genève). He shared the prize with Frédéric Passy, founder and president of the first French peace society.
- 1946: John R. Mott, USA, president of the World YMCA, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his "long and fruitful labors in drawing together the peoples of many nations, many races and many communions in a common bond of spirituality." John R. Mott also played an important role in the founding of the World Student Christian Federation in 1895, the 1910 World Missionary Conference and the World Council of Churches in 1948.
- Clean living movement
- Jewish Community Center
- List of recreational organizations
- List of YMCA buildings
- New York Society for the Suppression of Vice
- Polish YMCA
- Portland vice scandal
- YMCA of Greater New York
- YMCA SCUBA Program
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Through use of these facilities, as well as camping trips and baseball leagues, YMCA used sport and teamwork to expose young men to Muscular Christianity and "lead men to Christ."
- Earl Smith (2010). Sociology of Sport and Social theory. Human Kinetics. ISBN 9780736075725. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
Through use of these facilities, as well as camping trips and baseball leagues, YMCA used sport and teamwork to expose young men to Muscular Christianity and lead men to Christ.
- Stacy C. Boyd (2007). Black Men Worshiping: Intersecting Anxieties of Race, Gender and Christian Embodiment. Emory University. ISBN 9780549215912. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
Clifford Putney pays special attention to YMCA and the way its underlying philosophy changed to embrace the bodily emphasis of muscular Christianity.
- Ruth Clifford Engs (2001). Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780275975418. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
Out of this concern came church-related brotherhoods and character-building programs within YMCA, which personified the ideals of Muscular Christianity and manliness.
- Arieh Sclar (2008). "A Sport at which Jews excel": Jewish basketball in American society, 1900–1951. State University of New York at Stony Brook. ISBN 9780549922049. Retrieved 1 August 2011.
YMCA helped legitimate sport among the Christian public by serving as the symbolic and material site of 'muscular Christianity.'
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- YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College The first secondary school sponsored by YMCA Hong Kong.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to YMCA.|
- Official website
- YMCA Research
- YMCA Cabinet Record Book (MUM00654) at the University of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections.
- Young Men's Christian Association of Greater Boston, West Roxbury/Roslindale Branch records, 1948–1995 are located in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Boston, MA.
- Young Men's Christian Association of Greater Boston records, n.d., 1833–2003 (bulk 1851–1970) are located in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department, Boston, MA.
- Additional archives about the importance of YMCA to Chicago, IL and to the African American History.