4th APAY Youth Assembly: Sep 1-2, 2019

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Last Updated (Friday, 11 October 2019 17:24)

Youth empowerment for a more sustainable grassroots response
4th APAY Youth Assembly
1-2 September, Japan


“Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society.” - Challenge 21 Imperative

One hundred sixteen youth from 16 national movements who participated in the 4th Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs Youth Assembly (YA) held in Japan last September 1-2, 2019 strongly affirms that the commitment to Challenge 21 imperative of “empowering all, especially youth and women, remains to be the strength of the movement”. This strength sprang from the deeply rooted YMCA Christian character that respects diversity, embraces inclusivity and works toward human development. This identity is challenged to be more reflective of Jesus Christ’s examples by living the heart of YMCA’s mission for justice and peace, community development and social transformation.

Through the YA learning session, the participants shared stories that included their individual and the organizational journeys with the YMCAs from local, national, regional and global contexts. This opportunity provided helpful information that assisted young people in finding a sense of organizational identity with the end in view of creating impact on how to help shape the future. The learning session on knowing the movement was complimented by a dialogue on understanding social problems that include identification and analyses of causes and considerations of possible solutions. Through this sharing, it was hoped that the participants would be able to locate themselves and the movement in the social context and in the process of addressing social problems.


It is worthy to know what the youth thinks of the societal issues affecting them and communities. Hitomi, a Student YMCA from Japan, said that gender justice is one of the prevalent issues that bothers her. She stressed that women remain to be stereotyped on certain roles and behaviors and still cannot voice out their opinion. She strongly states that, “We must put a stop on this issue because women cannot tolerate it anymore.”


On another concern, Paul from Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong shared that most youth from his place are suffering from depression because of the competitive educational system and the thoughts of job prospects in the future. As a result of the exchanges, the youth strongly calls for each YMCA and the regional alliance to respond sustainably to the increasing needs and issues at a grassroots level such as women and children’s rights; gender equality; environmental protection and conservation; protection and inclusion of minorities; poverty; mental health; and youth participation and leadership development.


The youth emphasized that as part of the solution on addressing the above mentioned issues, the YMCAs must strengthen its commitment of providing access to youth participation and leadership development. Therefore, the young people call on APAY to continue education and awareness-building programs on pertinent issues at the grassroots level, organize projects and programs that respond to the issues of the communities, network with other organizations for effective results and impacts, and ensuring participatory development process and engagement. As Melody, a young staff of YMCA Makati said during the YA, “With the help of YMCA, I want to be part of the solution.” It is indeed important that we all work together as part of a wider social movement working towards social transformation.