Ghana YMCA 15TH Annual National Youth Conference
The 15th Annual National Youth Conference of Ghana YMCA with the theme “Creating Safe Power Space for Young People” was held from Wednesday 8th August, 2018 to 12th August, 2018 in the Eastern Region in Koforidua. More than 120 Youth representatives from our five regions converged at the Pentecost Senior High School for the event.
The annual Youth Conference is one of the activities of Ghana YMCA that attracts and empowers young people. The Ghana YMCA has the vision to include youth by given them a place or environment in which they can be innovative and confident and be creative without any fear of discrimination. YMCA creates spaces where young people will not be exposed to criticism and harassment, and where they feel free to learn and free to create.
To meet those requirements and expectations the conference offered some workshops to the participants in which they could bring to the fore their skills and learn some new ones, useful for income generating opportunities.
The workshops focused on providing skills training in areas such as preparing of liquid soap, taking of photo-graphs in a professional way and making hair bands and beads.
On the first day of the conference the participants embarked on an excursion to the Boti Waterfalls a few kilometers away from the Regional capital Koforidua. They explored the natural environment by hiking to the nearby Umbrella Rock. They enjoyed it so much, that during the Opening Ceremony on Friday, 10th of August, a group of young people did a performance by connecting their experience at the Boti Falls to their aspirations of the “Africa We Want, Agenda 2063” in presenting cards with connecting meanings to the Agenda.
The Annual Youth Committee engaged for the Opening Ceremony key personalities like the Eastern Regional Minister, Honorable Dr. Kwakye Darfour, the Juabeng South Municipal Chief Executive, Honorable Isaac Apau Gyesi and the Executive Director of 4H Ghana, Mr. Appiah Kwaku Boateng, who again represented the Acting Regional Director of the National Youth Authority. He emphasized on the genuine involvement of young people through the sharing of Christian ideals of building of human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all and this he said was in line with the SDG goal 16. He also urged that the youth be concerned about the insufficient attention to youth issues in national development policy and the lack of effective youth participation in the various sectors of Ghana’s development. He concluded that the youth need safe spaces where they can come together to engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interest, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. He pointed out that the YMCA is one of the NGOS that is interested in making that happen.
The National Chairman of the Ghana YMCA, Mr. Reynolds Kissiedu urged the young people at the conference and those in the YMCA movement that they must renew their hopes and commitments for greater service and volunteerism for the Y. He said there was ample evidence beyond doubt in Carlos Sanvee, who became the first African General Secretary of the World Alliance of the YMCA. He further stressed that there is a higher reward for service and sacrifice. This was also demonstrated at the past World Council of YMCAs meeting in July 2018 in Thailand, where Patricia Pelton, was elected as the first female President of the World YMCA.
This was a bold demonstration by the YMCA to all young women and minority groups that our spaces and indeed all spaces and opportunities in the YMCA is for all. He pointed out that the YMCA is truly committed to empowering young people in reaching their fullest potential.
The National Youth President, Joel Arthur encouraged the youth to come up with strategies to reduce unemployment, create safe power spaces and as well as engage in decision making processes at all levels. Furthermore, he pointed out that everybody needs skills to become a bread winner.
Kwabena Nketia Addae, the Executive Director of YMCA stated that there is still a lot of work to be done in the future. But he knows that young people can become catalysts of change and he wants to encourage them to do so.
In the evening there was an inter- regional quiz with questions concerning the YMCA and the Bible, where the five regions competed against each other. In the end the team of Greater Accra YMCA won the trophy.
Another key event was when the young people were engaged in various games as part of building their physical nature.
As part of the process towards the National Council Meeting of Ghana YMCA, the National Executive Committee used the occasion to meet to discuss and to agree on the revision of the Constitution for Ghana YMCA.
The governance process of the National Youth committee came into full play when new National Youth Executive Committee members were elected to take over the leadership responsibilities for the next two years. This election witnessed breaking of barriers as the committee had more females elected to the Youth Committee for the first time. This included the first female National Youth Vice President.
One notable introduction to this years’ Youth Conference was the organization of a bon fire night which was one of the climaxes of the programme. It ensured that there was social networking among all the youth from the different regions as well as sharing in different traditional songs from the various Regions.