On Sunday 4 August, more than 3,000 YMCA young people, staff, guests and volunteers from 100 countries gathered at ExCeL London to kick off its flagship anniversary celebration, YMCA175.
The opening ceremony got off to a rousing start as the United Nations General-Secretary’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, served as keynote. “You are not only the leaders of tomorrow, you are the leaders of today,” she said. “When given the right tools and opportunities, young people thrive in making the world a better place. Our generation possesses the power to build a foundation for a better world.”
YMCA officials first welcomed each delegation before Denise Hatton, CEO of host movement YMCA England and Wales, encouraged the delegation to “keep in mind the great leadership shown by our founder [Sir George Williams].”
Young leaders coached by TED-Ed shared their moving and inspiring stories on stage, urging young women and men the incentive to speak up, to act, to make their voices heard and not to give up. Alex Taylor, a Youth Ambassador from YMCA England & Wales shared her simple, but straightforward motto, “Change the things that irritate you.”
With the original Paris Basis by her side, World YMCA President Patricia Pelton left an indelible mark on the ceremony, “As we celebrate our rich history, let’s not forget to take this opportunity to look to the future and take our first step together to build a stronger, more inclusive society for all.”
The ceremony closed by a blessing given by Tricia Hillas, Canon Pastor at St Paul’s Cathedral. The celebrations of YMCA175 are now officially underway!
Can’t make YMCA175? See what sessions will be live streamed, and catch up on all the action from the opening ceremony last night!