The public organization “Young Men Christian Association”

The public organization “Young Men Christian Association” (YMCA Belarus) is a voluntary, non-political, non-religious, and non-governmental (NGO) association of citizens that has the status of a republican public organization, carrying out its programmes with the help of volunteers. The activities of the YMCA Belarus is based on Christian values and aimed at harmonic development of a human being.

YMCA Belarus is the member of the international YMCA movement whose roots lie in a distant 1844. The red equilateral triangle with its peak down, the logo of the YMCA, symbolizes the harmony of soul, body and mind and unites millions of people around the world.

The principal goal: facilitate the balanced development of person and promotion of healthy way of life among kids and young people through the realization of educational, cultural and sporting programmes.

YMCA tradition came to Belarus in the mid 90s. The first local organizations in Vitebsk, Volozhin and Lida were established in 1995.

The public organization “Young Men Christian Association” (YMCA Belarus) was registered on February 14, 2000, and in 2006 it was successfully re-registered.

Nowadays the branches of the organization work in seven cities of the republic: Bobruisk, Brest, Vitebsk, Volozhin, Lida, Minsk, and Molodechno.

The principal programmes:

1. “Youth for the Healthy Way of Life” is the programme that operates since September, 2001 and stipulates the conduct of information, enlightening and cultural events and campaigns.

The basis of the programme is the principle of “peer education” when trained young people transfer their knowledge to their peers. Each local branch has Peer education centres. Proprietary developments are used as the methodological basis.

The goal of the programme is to enhance the awareness of adolescents and young people about the problem of the spread of HIV-infection and use of psychoactive substances (PAS) in order to provide protection of their life and health.

A series of information and enlightening workshops on the problem of HIV-infection and PASs is conducted in each town for the adolescents and youth in education institutions and summer recreation camps. Traditionally, an action “The youth of the world against AIDS” is realized on December, 1 that includes concerts, theatre performances at schools and town culture centres, the spread of information material on the prevention of HIV-infection as well as such actions as “sports against AIDS”, Days of Heath and other events.

Moreover, the programme “The Youth FOR the Healthy Way of Life” harmoniously complements other areas of activities of the organization: “TenSing” and “Scouting” and it expands the opportunities of the youth’s participation.

2. “TenSing” programme (“Singing teens”) started working in the first local organizations along with the emergence of YMCA movement in the country.

This energetic mix of singing, music, dance, theatre and spiritual development has become very popular.

The goal of the programme is to develop and realize creative abilities of teens and young people. The participants, who are involved in the activities of four workshops – dances, drama, band and choir  – prepare amazing stage performances and take part in several concerts in Belarus and abroad. The Belarusian team has participated in European TenSing Festivals several times and it was given an award at the YMCA Festivals in Prague in 2003 and 2008.

3. Scouting programme allow young people to gain a number of important skills through the working in scout patrol. It is a movement with rich traditions and world-famous name, which gives the members an opportunity to learn the basics of the first medical aid, survival in extreme environments, ability to communicate with peers and cooperate within small groups. And numerous sporting games facilitate the physical development of the participants of the programme. Furthermore, the programme has clear social nature: the motto of the members is “No day without a good deed!”

The goal of the programme is to help young people to reach their full physical, mental, social and spiritual potentiality as individuals, responsible citizens and members of local, national and international communities.

4. The programme “International Youth Cooperation” has been operating in the organization since 2004. Within the framework of the programme young people from Belarus participate in youth meetings and festivals abroad, in the programmes “Volunteers for Europe” and “Work in the summer camps of the YMCA”. Moreover, many young people from other countries can visit Belarus and meet their peer Belarusians.

The goal of the programmes is the development and expansion of international links based on interpersonal contacts, broadening of the outlook of young people in culture, history and peculiarities of the way of life.

Besides, each branch develops its own areas of activities: social work, work with children groups, sports, and tourism.

The life of the YMCA Belarus is closely connected with socio-cultural interaction with the representatives of other organizations both in the country and abroad:

YMCA Belarus is the member of the Belarusian Association of nongovernmental organizations in the area of the struggle against HIV/AIDS  epidemics  «БелСеть антиСПИД»; member of the network of youth initiatives, operating according to the principle “Peer to peer”; collaborates with the Public organization “Belarusian Yong Women Christian Association” (YMCA); with the Christian Union of the Young Men of Germany (CVJM) “Network of peace”; with KFUK-KFUM of Sweden; with the YMCA of Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Macedonia, and Slovenia. The activities of the YMCA Belarus is connected with the YMCA of Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia.

Starting from 2000 the YMCA Belarus is the member of the YMCA Europe, and in 2002 the YMCA Belarus became the part of the global movement YMCA (World Alliance YMCA), and in 2010 it became the full member of the World Alliance YMCA.

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