Posted by: thebluemusicblog | November 9, 2015


We took 60 participants from 40 countries through beautiful Prague before we put them on the train to Litomysl and the YMCA Europe Training Centre. This is the first time ever that we organize a World YMCA Strategy Delivery Summit.


This meeting is constructed by bringing together 7 different work groups/meetings and mixing all of them in inspiring, cross fertilizing plenaries every morning and evening. The idea is that all of the participants shall get ownership to the overall Strategy Delivery and learn from one another.


Here Kristina from APAY and Chad from YMCA of the USA, both participating in the Safe Space Meeting to follow up on one of the World Council resolutions about dealing with sensitive issues to avoid discrimination of any young people in our movement.


Aysa from Nigeria delivered the report from the Safe Space Meeting to the plenary, and the whole group including our excellent facilitator Anthony Venn-Brown, was presented. The process has been confidential, so the report was what the whole group had unanimously agreed to publish from the three days process.


Peter from Victoria YMCA in Australia and Rocia from YMCA Peru and Gillian from Derbyshire YMCA in England responding to the opening report from me and my staff on where we are just now on OUR WAY Strategy delivery. These three leaders reported on how they were implementing OUR WAY in their local contexts. Inspiring and very, very encouraging!


The plenary with leaders from 40 countries. We had creative ways of sharing reports, we had talk shows with interviews led by Ian Green, we had local TV coverage from W.E.A.K. YMCA TV, led by Peter Burns, and we had fish bowl as a method where some of our dear friends had problems keeping to only 2 minutes speaking time! Not easy.


An important work group meeting every day, was the Property Development Group, here led by James and Jason from EMC in London, our consultants. The process was fascinating and led to establishment of a Steering Group for the implementation of this important part of OUR WAY, with people from Australia, UK, Ghana and Kenya.


The Power Space Group was the biggest one with practitioners from all around the globe, helping Romulo to develop  new program approach to bring Youth Empowerment to many more young people around the world. The idea is to find thinking and resources and ideas from the grass root levels and to bring that together into a new concept of Power Spaces. The participants were fired up and worked hard on the concept.


Above together with Juan from YMCA Europe, James from Africa Alliance and Ed from YMCA Europe you see to the left Radka, a volunteer from the local Litomysl Church who had travelled to the border of Croatia and Serbia to help the crowds of refugees passing that border on that particular week. She showed us photos and gave us fresh impressions from the field. She was talking to the Refugee Committee of the World YMCA, we had our very first meeting combined with this Summit. Among many other things we decided to immediately invite APAY, LACA and the YMCAs of USA and Canada to send representatives to this Steering Group. We are soon to launch a fundraising campaign for the refugee work in the YMCA.


Other members of the Refugee Committee, Peter from UK, Alan from Australia and Michal from World YMCA and Suzanne. In addition to the above mentioned work groups we also had a group consisting of local and National YMCAs willing to host a launch event for the One Million Voices Research report. We planned in details what such an event should look like, and in one of the morning plenaries we actually did a launch event for the rest of the meeting. We heard many comments like: This is a milestone for the YMCA, a historical day, a break through for evidence based work, a new positioning for the world wide YMCA movement. Myself I am invited to England for a launch at the British Parliament in London and next day in Edinburgh, Scotland. Andrew is participating in Melbourne, Australia, and in Auckland New Zealand. There will be launch events in several other cities as well. I will come back to this in later blog posts.


Romulo has found his place in the local church, waiting for a concert by a local children’s choir, see video below. Included in the summit was also a meeting of the Area Secretaries to discuss new staff positions in the areas financed by the World YMCA. As observers to the whole summit, but also running their own Governance meetings, were the World YMCA President, the Treasurer, the chair of the Strategy Committee as well as the four Area Presidents invited. This mix of volunteers and staff was really successful and added a very constructive element to the experience.


We climbed to the top of the church tower and saw Litomysl by night from above.

A great little concert by this charming choir.


The new General Secretary of APAY, Nam Boo-won, having a chat with the local volunteers helping out with the technical details of the summit.


The last evening we went from church to the local brewery, where we were shown around by the brewer himself.


It was an interesting visit with lots of laughter and numerous questions from an interested audience.


This is a local beer named after the famous composer Bedric Smetana, born in Litomysl, and a son of a brewer.


By coincidence this became the first meeting of the four Presidents of YMCA Europe, Ed, Terry, Jan and Peter.


Peter, Ingunn and Misha on a tour of the Old City in Prague.


And the final dinner was in Imperial Restaurant, in an Art Deco Hotel in Prague, hosted by Terry and Trish. A great evening to round off an encouraging week of hard and inspiring work to bring OUR WAY Strategy forward. I think we succeeded, and there are plans for a similar summit in Litomysl next year at the same time.

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