Posted by: thebluemusicblog | November 8, 2011


San Francisco is a wonderful city. From Twin Peaks you have a glamorous view of the City at the Bay, and you can see Market Street divide the city centre in two. I had great pleasure of visiting San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the building itself a beautiful piece of modern architecture, and the collection inside breathtakingly interesting, exciting, provocative and beautiful. A few hours in a museum like that fills you with energy and inspiration.

(50 dollars to the first to identify SFMOMA in this photo!)

The YMCA programmes in San Francisco can be equally breathtaking. I spent half a day together with some very brave women in the Corner Stone programme from Silicon Valley.  It is about youth Empowerment, but equally focused on the empowerment of insecure immigrant mothers and their families. Some of the women cried when they told us their stories, refugees from Vietnam, immigrants from China, painful stories of suffering and suppression. And then the inspiring witnesses about how the YMCA had liberated them, created a safe place, a place to grow and develop and to find self esteem and a language to connect with. Fabulous!

A part of that half day meant us going to the  streets of San Francisco and interviewing people about teenagers and their view on teenagers. We got many interesting answers, some even positive! Then we met anti war demonstrants, they called themselves Grandmothers against War. Their view on teenagers? – Do not like them! What should we as adults do about teenagers? – Spank them!

On Saturday morning I gave a keynote speech on Youth Empowerment. When the World Alliance present a message, it needs to be so clear, easy to understand and so relevant that most people will nod their heads and say, yes, this is a good way of expressing what it is we do at the YMCA, in all what we do.

The Youth Empowerment change model is very easy to understand. It is in three parts. 1. the Space. We want to give young people not on ly a safe place, but a challenging place, a place where they can grow and develop and find their own voice. We want the YMCA to be a creative space, a self determined space for young people. 2. Capacity building, equipping young people with what they need, whatever starting point they come from. We want the YMCA to offer values, knowledge, skills, tools, self esteem, safety as well as challenges. So that these young people can grow and become free and independent, not adults yet, but free young people with influence over their own lives and the societies where they live. Even with influence in the YMCA where they are members. 3. Impact. With new mindsets and developed leadership skills young people will express themselves with their own voices and they will impact on their communities individually as well as collectively.

We want to introduce this Youth Empowerment Change Model, not to create new programmes, not to say that this is new at all. We want to use it as the flag we are sailing under, as the signal that will mobilize young people all around the world wide movement of YMCA and we will see the March of the 5 Million young people, not  military march, not an agressiv march, but a march for justice and peace, for dignity and freedom for young people. We shall tell all the young people in all the empowering YMCA programmes that they belong to the largest youth movement in the world, and that key elements in the programmes they participate in, already are Youth Empowerment par excellence. And we shall tell them that when we walk together under the same flagg we will all be proud and we will all be strong and we will slowly change the world to a better place, stronger than ever before.

That is the vision inside NEW WAY. That is the vision I presented in San Francisco on Saturday morning for 400 participants at the International Conference of the YMCAs in Mexico, USA and Canada. And people are joining us on the NEW WAY. I would love to hear your comments, friends, you can write it just here!

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