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  • Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    YMCA Movement in North America

    The Chengdu YMCA asked me to prepare an article on the North American YMCA Movement for the current issue of their YMCA Magazine. Using materials from the web site of the YMCA of the USA, I submitted the following article which is also translated into Chinese.

    YMCAs Build Strong Kids,
    Strong Families, Strong Communities

    America’s 2,617 YMCAs make it the largest not-for-profit community service organization in America, working to meet the health and human service needs of 20.2 million men, women and children who are members in 10,000 communities in the United States. YMCAs are at the heart of community life across the United States: 42 million families and 72 million households live within three miles of a YMCA.

    YMCA stands for Young Men's Christian Association, but that does not mean that YMCAs are only for "young, Christian men." From its start more than 150 years ago, when George Williams founded the YMCA in London with Bible study and prayer meetings as a substitute for life on the streets, the YMCA was unusual because it included men from all the different churches and social classes in England. This openness was a trait that would lead YMCAs to recognize their strength is in the people they bring together -- Ys are for all people of all faiths, races, nationalities, ages, abilities and incomes. American YMCAs' financial assistance policies ensure that no one is turned away for reasons of inability to pay.

    Volunteers lead YMCAs and are central to their mission, ensuring each Y meets the unique needs of its community. Over 561,000 people serve as YMCA volunteers in America.

    Collaboration is critical to American YMCAs' efforts to develop effective community-based programs. Many YMCAs collaborate with schools, hospitals, churches and juvenile courts to provide human services.

    Because YMCAs are driven by the communities they serve, each American YMCA is different. Child care, teenage leadership training, and sports clubs for older adults may be offered in one community, while another YMCA provides swim lessons, fitness classes, and after-school programming in local schools. Every Y decides what programs to offer and how to operate. From child care to older adult fitness, camping and aquatics, YMCAs offer opportunities for individuals and families to grow in spirit, mind and body at every stage of life.

    YMCAs are the largest providers of child care in the United States, operating nearly 10,000 child care sites across the country, providing high-quality and affordable care to more than 500,000 children. YMCAs also serve nearly 10 million children under the age of 18 through activities such as camping, sports and after-school programs. YMCAs are the largest employers of teenagers in the country.

    The YMCA movement stretches far beyond the United States. YMCAs are at work in more than 120 countries around the world, serving more than 45 million people. About 230 U.S. YMCAs maintain partnerships with YMCAs in other countries. Building strong kids, strong families and strong communities is what the YMCA stands for -- worldwide.

    基督教青年会让儿童更健康、
    让家庭更和睦、让社区更和谐

    遍布美国的2617个基督教青年会使得基督教青年会成为美国最大的非盈利性社区服务组织。它致力于满足美国10000个社区的2020万男女老少的健康及人性化需求。基督教青年会占据了全美社区生活的中心:4200万个家庭和7200万住户居住在离基督教青年会三英里内的地方。

    YMCA虽然是基督教青年会的缩写,但这并不意味着它只针对基督徒青年。从150多年前乔治.威廉姆斯在伦敦创立基督教青年会时起(那时只是通过学习圣经和做礼拜来代替社区生活),基督教青年会就非比寻常。因为它拥有着来自英格兰所有不同教会和社会各阶层的人员。这种公开性使得聚集在基督教青年会的所有人意识到他们的强烈力量:基督教青年会是针对各种信仰、人种、民族、年龄、能力和收入的人群。美国基督教青年会的财政援助政策确保了没有一个人会因为无能力支付而被拒之门外。

    在基督教青年会里,义工(志愿者)起核心作用以确保每一个基督教青年会分会都能满足(其区域内)社区的特殊要求。在美国超过56.1万人是基督教青年会的义工。

    合作对于基督教青年会开发有效的以社区为对象的项目至关重要。许多基督教青年会都同学校、医院、教会和少年法庭合作提供人性化服务。

    由于每个基督教青年会都是针对他们所服务的社区,所以每个基督教青年会都不尽相同。有可能这个基督教青年会提供照料儿童、培养青少年领导能力和组建成人健身俱乐部,而另一个基督教青年会则在当地的学校开设游泳、健身课程和课后活动项目。每个基督教青年会都可以自行决定提供什么和怎样开展。从照料儿童到成年人健身、露营和水上运动,基督教青年会为个人和家庭提供机会使得他们在人生的各个阶段均衡发展。

    基督教青年会是美国最大的照料儿童的机构。它为全美近1万个托儿所和超过50万名儿童提供高质量的服务。基督教青年会还为近100018岁以下青少年提供露营、体育和其他课外活动。此外,基督教青年会也是美国最大的青少年雇佣机构。

    基督教青年会开展的活动远非只在本国,它为全世界的120多个国家和超过4500万人提供服务。大约230个美国本土的基督教青年会与其他国家的基督教青年会保持合作关系,让儿童更健康、让家庭更和睦、让社区更和谐是基督教青年会的真正目的所在――它是全世界性的。

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