Posted by: thebluemusicblog | July 25, 2012


In front of the main bull ring in Madrid

Tuesday evening was the opening of the World Urban Network Conference with the title: “Changing Lives, Moving Forward”. The opening reception was a bombardment of smiles and hugs and an overwhelmingly friendly atmosphere. WUN and WAY are close allies, and under leadership of Bill Stewart, CEO, Vancouver, Canada and Peter Burns, Chair, Melbourne, Australia, WUN has become the closest partner for NEW WAY the last couple of years. I am very grateful to Bill and Peter for their excellent leadership, for future oriented visions and very practical project management. All of us see great potential in this partnership and we are eager to continue to develop it.

Bill Stewart, CEO, Vancouver, Canada and Peter Burns, Chair, Melbourne, Australia

Pedro Fueyo, General Secretary YMCA Spain, was excellent host for the conference, and delivered sunshine and tropical heat every day. In Spain a summer day starts on 40 degrees in the shade and goes up!

Wednesday had the theme “Diversity and Integration” and Medhat Mahdy, already and old friend, CEO from Toronto and Jim Milligan,  responsible for Diversity and Social Inclusion  at Toronto YMCA, gave inspirational inputs on the importance of respecting all the diversity inside a YMCA and the diversity of all the people coming to the YMCA, and how we can become more inclusive YMCAs. I spent time with Jim and enjoyed his wisdom and all his experience from a very interesting background. Go Toronto!

Jim Milligan,  responsible for Diversity and Social Inclusion  at Toronto YMCA

Then it was time for an old friend an ally for me, the key note address of Peter Posner, “my” previous YMCA Europe President from my time in Europe. Peter gave an excellent key note and showed us through the latest statistical material the challenges and opportunities our cities and organizations have in designing sustainable programs and services that meet the social, economic and health needs of our citizens. Peter’s speech came as a very natural further development of the perspectives from Toronto. Well done, Peter!

The new YMCA Europe Secretary General, Juan Simoes Iglesias  and the old one, and in the middle Peter Posner

Now one highlight followed the next, an input from Duncan Stephenson, Central YMCA on Body Images and self esteem for young people, Christian Kamara told us about the Sierra Leone experience, you can go back to the Sierra Leone blogpost if you want to read more, and we heard more from Toronto. After dinner I had the opportunity to tell the story about the Sleeping Giant.

Thursday had the theme “Growth and Sustainability” and started with an informal devotion under leadership of Joe Schmutz from Munich and then Jack Lund, President and CEO New York YMCA introduced the day and gave us an exciting record of the proceedings in a big YMCA in one of the most famous cities of the world. Of course it came as no surprise that Jack’a daily bread include dealings with Mayor Bloomberg and the previous Vice President Al Gore and other VIPs. The slogan of New York YMCA is “WE ARE HERE FOR GOOD” – an excellent play of words!

Jack Lund, President and CEO New York YMCA

Peter Burns gave us an educational insight in big business operations from Victoria YMCA, around acquisition of a chain of  Swim Educational Centres in Australia.The focus for Peter over the last few years has ben:

* Invest heavily to provide Services to lower socio-economic communities

* Fundraise and provide subsidized access to thousands

* Increase the number of volunteers contributing to community development

* Invest in owned assets, camp, child care and community hubs

Peter Burns, CEO Victoria YMCA, Australia

Jonathan Martin told us how Cambridgeshire and Peterborough YMCA dealt with Social Bonds and calculated how their social intervention with the local prison saved society considerable cost.  Very interesting stuff! Slowly we got to understand that YMCAs around the world are involved in running cemeteries, swim clubs, prisons and slum community sentries, among many other activities. My old mate from Alexandria, Magdy Fawzi, told us from the Arab Spring in Egypt and Juan Simoes told us about the recent developments in YMCA Europe. With his friendly sense of humor Juan got the smiles on all faces.

Magdy Fawzi, CEO Alexandria YMCA, Egypt

The late evening included a visit to one of  “1000 Places to See Before You Die”, Corral de la Moreria, considered as the “Cathedral of Flamenco Art”. Fabulous performances, guitar, singing and superb dancing – thank you, Pedro and Spain!

Two very good friends, General Secretary Spain YMCA Pedro Fueyo and Jason Hagensick, President and CEO Greater Long Beach YMCA, USA. Pedro was our great host and Jason got lots of well deserved praise for helping NEW WAY in many ways, hosting the Change Agent Training the Trainers just these days and offering staff support to several projects – Go long Beach!

The following friends were not actively involved in the Flamenco dancing, but enjoyed it thoroughly:

Andy Calhoun, President and CEO Charlotte YMCA, North Carolina

Christian Kamara, National General Secretary Sierra Leone YMCA,

Scott Haldane, National CEO, YMCA Canada,

as well as my friend from many years ago, CEO John Haddock from Kitchener Waterloo YMCA in Canada, but enjoying blue water from blue bottles in blue glasses creating loads of Blue Music!

Friday gave us a full day of presentations around Spain YMCA. This included an inspirational visit to one of the most solid supporters of Spain YMCA, one of Spain’s premier financial institutions La Caixa and its foundation Obra Social La Caixa. Videos showed us Spain YMCAs social impact in many local YMCAs and   another old friend of mine, the President of Spain YMCA, Jose Antonio Corrales, gave a wonderful input to the present situation of YMCA in Spain. A distant photo of not superb quality shows Jose Antonio and Pedro:

And then, as the early sun rises over Madrid, ready to give another heat shock to the city, the conference goes into its last day as I am taken to the airport by my good friend Juan Simoes and wave goodbye to Spain. Thank you to Wold Urban Network for another great conference!


  1. […] –> zum Artikel […]

  2. Just listen to you at the YMC 70th convention in Stavanger. Please tell all in Tour organisation, tjat you Arne takning part og our convention

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