YMCA of Central Massachusetts to Send Teens to Festival in Prague
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The YMCA of Central Massachusetts has announced that it is sending nine lucky teens to participate at the YMCA "Love 2 Live” European Festival in Prague, Czech Republic. The week of festivities, designed to celebrate life, culture, diversity and all that is inspiring about being young in Europe and the wider world, takes place August 4-10.
In 2012, the YMCA of Central Massachusetts was named a Global Center of Excellence (GCE), becoming only one of three YMCA’s of New England, and one of 38 in the nation. The YMCA’s that are honored with this prestigious title have been chosen based on its commitment to achieve and maintain exceptional global best practices in six (6) areas of opportunity.
The criteria include Membership Development, Program Innovation, Leadership Development, Collaboration, Financial Development, and Visibility. As a component to its commitment to excellence and program innovation the YMCA of Central Massachusetts continues to identify and train its young adult staff leaders preparing them to join the pipeline of global, diverse new leaders as they learn to be “Change Agents.”
In 2013 three young adult staff leaders were selected from the four Central Massachusetts branches to serve as “Change Agents.” One of their first initiatives was to identify a group of teens that would be given the opportunity to participate in the 2013 YMCA Europe “Love 2 Live” Festival.
The youth participants were selected through an extensive process which included an essay, interviews, parent support, as well as their commitment to the mission and values of the YMCA. From this process it was narrowed down to approximately twenty youth of which the final nine were selected.
The "Love 2 Live" Festival
"The YMCA Love 2 Live Festival parallels the YMCA mission because it reaches out to the future and connects young people who will be our future world leaders," says David Connell, Regional Executive Director of the YMCA and Global Center of Excellence Director.
"We strive to impart a sense of positive influences, while acknowledging differences and more importantly focusing on the common ground many communities share."
During the course of the week, the Festival will take these selected 10,000 young people from around the world on a journey: exploring their dreams, aspirations & talents; developing their leadership skills; and challenging them to make sense of the world we live in locally, nationally and globally. The program will help the teens to increase awareness of global issues, while forming relationships with other teens selected from Y’s from all over the world.
For the YMCA’s “Change Agents,” the European “Love 2 Live” Festival is a tremendous opportunity to refine their leadership ability by shaping the potential of young volunteers and program participants. In addition, Festival Education is an essential part of preparing the teens for an opportunity of a lifetime. This includes preparation for international travel, creating their itinerary for the world-wide conference in Prague, and living and eating in a foreign country.
"The festival is unique since it only happens once every 5 years and it's important to bring youth together on a regular basis to experience life outside of their respective vacuums and receive a global view of how other cultures live. With the advances of social media, the person to person relationships they develop is invaluable," says John Brown, of the Worcester Central Community Branch YMCA, a Sparticus Youth Director and Change Agent.
"The YMCA is focused on staying ahead of the curve for youth development and desires to remain a leader in the Central Massachusetts community. The youth that have been selected are a diverse and unique group of young people with amazing stories about the impact YMCA has had in their lives," says Brian Anderson, the Greendale Family Branch Youth Director and Change Agent.
“I feel that this will not only give me the chance to form new relationships, but it will also give me the chance to better my understanding of the globe as it is outside our little ‘Central Massachusetts’ community. This is something I could take out of the trip, and knowledge that I could keep with me for the rest of my life," said Ben Macchi, a Prague participant.
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