June 14, 2021

YMCA hosts Leaders Youth Conference

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Cayman Islands YMCA hosts Third Annual Leaders for Youth Conference

The YMCA of the Cayman Islands recently hosted the 3rd Annual Leaders for Youth Conference, which brings together over 130 participants, including YMCA staff, volunteers, teen leaders and community partners, to learn from each other and grow as leaders in their community. The event featured new and returning local presenters as well as international partners from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg (Florida) and the Westfield Area Y (New Jersey). In addition, for the first time, the Y hosted YMCA leaders from across the Caribbean (Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago) who are building on the after-school programmes in their respective countries, and hoping to learn from the work Cayman’s Y is doing. Their attendance was made possible through funding received from the National Council of YMCAs of India, in partnership with the Latin America & Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs (LACA) and CIBC FCIB ComTrust Foundation.

The two-day conference kicked off with leadership training for YMCA programme coordinators and professional staff which included visits to several after-school sites across the island. The international partners found the excursions eye-opening and informative.

“We got to see how the staff interact with the kids, the spaces they have to work with, some of the wins and challenges that they have and how this conference can respond to some of those issues and help develop the staff team,” said Newton Reiff, Sports Director at the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg in Florida.

The second day of the conference consisted of workshops under the theme of “The Power of Perspective”, and focused on the role each Y leader, volunteer and partner plays, and their ability to positively influence the youth with whom they work and interact with.

Christen Suckoo, Chief Officer for the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, visited training sessions, and provided opening remarks Saturday morning, reflecting on the conference theme and partnership between the Ministry and the YMCA.

“I would like to congratulate the Y for its recognition of the need for continual improvement and knowledge sharing, and continuing to strive for excellence in all their endeavours,” said Mr. Suckoo. “This year’s theme, the power of perspective, is a timely one. We live in an age when understanding, accepting and respecting each other’s perspective is giving way to pride and a stubborn stopping up of the ears. This is no less true in Cayman than it is elsewhere, and no less important to understand, than within the context of reaching, and positively influencing our children and youth. We can’t help them if we can’t build a bridge of respect. We can’t build bridges if we don’t listen, and we can’t hear them if we don’t understand and respect their perspectives.”

The Chief Officer also spoke about the Government’s Extended After-School Programme which is run by the Y and thanked the team – which includes over 50 public school teachers – for their dedication to the students.

Monique Hinds, newly appointed General Secretary for the Barbados YMCA, was very impressed with the after-school programme, and the opportunities available to participants.

“It was good to see what’s happening in the Cayman Islands and refreshing to see the children take part in structured and supervised activity after school, and to see that there are avenues where you can create more opportunities for kids,” said Ms. Hinds.

Hinds attended the ‘It’s My Y for Youth Development’ workshop and came away with a plan to take back home.

“I think youth between 8 and 11 is the group we need to better support back in Barbados. The knowledge I gained here I can take home and adapt to Barbados.”

“The 3rd Annual YMCA Leaders for Youth Conference is always such an empowering event for all of us who have the privilege of serving our community. We all come with different backgrounds, cultures, worldviews and experiences but we are all united around the Y’s core values of honesty, caring, respect, responsibility and faith, and this realisation makes it so much easier to work together to make our country a better place,” said YMCA Cayman’s CEO Greg Smith. “Having our counterparts from around the Caribbean and the US join us this year was a great opportunity to not only gain new perspectives from them, but also remind ourselves just how far we’ve come, and celebrate our successes through the telling of our story to our visiting attendees.”

For more information about the YMCA Cayman Islands, log on to www.ymcacayman.ky, email [email protected] or call 926.9622.

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