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YMCA launches global event initiative for 175th anniversary year

16 September 2018

YMCA Europe and hosts YMCA England & Wales, in partnership with the World Alliance of YMCAs and YMCA of the USA, today announce a shared global initiative. 

In 2019, YMCA’s landmark 175th anniversary year, YMCA will return to London, its founding city, and create a global opportunity to celebrate and harness the energy, creative vision and solution-focused approach of young leaders.

‘YMCA175’ will be unique four-day event at ExCeL London, connecting thousands of inspiring young leaders from around the world to share their vision and personal experiences of social transformation to shape a positive and sustainable future for the world.

When YMCA was founded in 1844, the vision of a 22-year-old young man back grew to become the world’s largest and oldest youth movement. Nearly 175 years later YMCA is now operating in 119 countries, with 64 million people reached annually around the world. 

Young leaders will attend YMCA175 as delegates and will be drawn from YMCAs worldwide to challenge, debate and create new ideas and solutions to tackle the biggest issues that matter to them and the world.

Juan Simoes Iglesias, Secretary General of YMCA Europe, said “YMCA175 will be a unique opportunity to celebrate YMCA’s remarkable contribution to humanitarian development and the empowerment of young people globally. It will take all delegates on an inspiring journey, further developing their leadership skills and talents as active citizens in today’s world.”

YMCA175 will create an intensely packed programme that will drive young leaders’ agendas and actions at local, national and global level. The programme of events will invite influential leaders from the worlds of politics, business and NGOs to challenge delegates to discuss, create and present innovative solutions to the biggest issues of today. 

YMCA’s significant global reach and impact has been recognised by corporate, foundation, governmental and NGO partners throughout history as critical for advancing youth-centred change. It is because of this impact that the World Alliance of YMCA’s has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations. These relationships and partnerships will be further developed through the work of young leaders at YMCA175. 

Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, CEO of the World Alliance of YMCAs, said: “The significance of young leaders and key advocates, partners and supporters of YMCA converging on London, in our anniversary year is not taken lightly. YMCA175 will be a defining moment in our history where our global mission of empowering more young leaders to make the world a better place for all will be at the forefront.”

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive YMCA England & Wales, said: “As the host nation, YMCA England & Wales is thrilled that YMCA 175 will be taking place where it all began, in London. Following in the footsteps of Sir George Williams, YMCA’s young leaders from across the globe will join together to challenge, debate and shape their future. We look forward to welcoming them to our beautiful city and YMCA’s home.”

This global celebration of youth leadership will convene from 4 to 8 August 2019 at ExCeL London, the home of world leading events. Samantha Shamkh, Head of Conventions at ExCeL London, said ““We are delighted that the YMCA have chosen ExCeL London to host their 175th anniversary. We look forward to welcoming young people from all over the world to join together in this unique celebration. By choosing ExCeL, YMCA will be able to build on the legacy of previous festivals, adding a strong educational programme to a new style of event. We look forward to working in partnership with the YMCA to deliver a truly great event outcome for them and their delegates.”

Registration will open on Friday 21 September to YMCA’s global movement, with early bird delegate packages starting at £150 for individuals from countries that require Visas to enter the UK, with a range of packages in between, rising to £465 for delegate packages with accommodation from other parts of the world after early bird tickets have sold out.

To find out more go to 

YMCA175 will also host an exhibition that will showcase innovative technologies, projects and humanitarian work from internal and external partners, corporate organisations, NGOs and institutes for YMCA young and senior leaders to explore further partnerships and collaborations. 

The global event also invites speakers to present, host workshops, panels or inspirational talks on a broad range of subjects including environment, economic growth, education, employment, the Sustainable Development Goals, health and civic engagement for the primary audience of 16 to 35-year-old leaders.  

YMCA175 is being organised by YMCA Europe, the area alliance for YMCAs in Europe; hosted by YMCA England & Wales, the national council for local YMCAs, and partnered with the World Alliance of YMCAs and YMCA of the USA.

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