Environment & Climate Change

Reflecting on YMCA of Singapore's Earth Day Event: Fostering Sustainability for a Greener Future

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Reflecting on YMCA of Singapore's Earth Day Event: Fostering Sustainability for a Greener Future

As the World YMCA works towards the vision of a sustainable planet by 2030, YMCAs around the world are stepping up to the challenge, weaving environmental consciousness into their core values and operations. On 22 April, the YMCA of Singapore took a significant stride towards this vision by hosting a special event in alignment with Earth Day, a testament to their commitment to the World YMCA Vision 2030 and its pillar of Sustainable Planet. 

This event was a vibrant collaboration between the YMCA of Singapore and Plastify, a local company that specialises in recycling plastic waste into reusable goods while conducting educational workshops on sustainability. Together, we orchestrated a 3-hour workshop, inviting a diverse audience comprising children from YMCA Student Care Centre @ Northshore and YMCA Student Care Centre @ Valour, guests from YMCA @ One Orchard (YMCA’s social enterprise accommodation) and YMCA staff.

The heart of the event lay in its educational component, targeting the future custodians of our planet — over 20 children from YMCA Student Care Centre @ Northshore and YMCA Student Care Centre @ Valour. These young minds delved into the intricacies of environmental sustainability, getting hands-on experience in transforming plastic waste through an injector machine into functional items like carabiners and coasters. Their enthusiasm was palpable as they learned, created and departed with tangible reminders of their contribution towards a greener Earth.

In addition to practical workshops, the children had the opportunity to glean insights from the experts themselves. Interviews with Plastify's Director, Paul Lee, shed light on the multifaceted dimensions of environmental stewardship. These conversations bridged theory with practice, inspiring the children to envision tangible actions within their communities.

Beyond the educational aspect, the event fostered a sense of camaraderie among YMCA staff, who found themselves bonding over a shared passion for sustainability as they learned about recycling techniques and crafted their own eco-friendly souvenirs.

Looking ahead, the YMCA of Singapore harbours a profound hope — that events like these will serve as catalysts for broader awareness and action. By engaging client groups, stakeholders and staff alike, we aspire to ignite a ripple effect, where each individual becomes an ambassador for change within their circles of influence. It's a vision where caring for the planet becomes not just a duty but a shared endeavour — a journey towards a greener, more sustainable future for generations to come.

By-Marketing & Corporate Communications Team
YMCA of Singapore


“Earth Hour 2 Earth Day Climate Action Challenge”

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YMCA Korea is developing youth climate leadership through the Raonatti Project

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(Raonatti participants making friends with youths in Chiangmai, Thailand)

Raonatti means friend in Korean language.

Raonatti program (Raonatti) is an Asian youth leadership program that the National Council of YMCAs of Korea (NCYK) has continued for 15 years under the sponsorship of KB Kookmin Bank. The main goal of the Raonatti is facilitating Asian youth to dream of a sustainable future together through the process of becoming friends with each other. Raonatti is based on cooperation with various YMCAs in Asia. NCYK trains Korean youth and sends them to YMCAs in Asia (a total of 11 countries in the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs have joined so far) to carry out projects for sustainable Asia, including volunteer work and educational activities with local youths.


(Planting trees with local children in Malang, Indonesia)

Two thousand seven hundred trees were planted in 2023.

Raonatti stopped sending Korean youths due to COVID-19 and resumed its activities in 2023. After COVID-19, Raonatti has been renewed as a three-week program with local YMCAs of four countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam) under the theme 'Sustainable Asia, Youth Climate Leadership.' Thirty-six Korean youths were trained in Korea based on climate crisis, human rights, and SDGs, and they were sent to four countries last January. A total of 2700 trees were planted with the local YMCAs for these three weeks.

Tree planting is the easiest and most effective way for carbon absorption. The most important thing about tree planting is that there should be a system for caring for trees planted by local communities. Trees that are not cared for by anyone eventually die, and such activities will not be of any help to the sustainable earth. To this end, the NCYK received advice from the Executive Director of Green Asia Network, Oh Ki-chul, who received the first prize of the U.N. Land for Life Award for making forests with Mongolian communities. Oh emphasized that planting trees that are not beneficial to the local community is meaningless and not sustainable based on his 30-year experience.


(Planting trees with local communities in Chiangmai, Thailand)

To apply this principle, the local YMCAs in four countries put in a lot of effort. The local YMCAs have connected and communicated with local communities to ensure that trees can be planted in places where local communities will take the follow-up management. In addition, they contacted local government offices and schools so that trees could be planted in public places and that each institution could take care of them. Educational programs to teach local children about the importance and enjoyment of planting trees through planting together with the participants were designed, too. (Educated 520 children in 2023)

Civil solidarity and international cooperation are sustainable solutions to the climate crisis.

In addition to planting trees, the participants carried out various campaigns and educational activities. In connection with a local university, VietnamYMCA helped participants to conduct a campaign in the campus area. The campaign was to exchange plastics for flower pots. The Cambodia YMCA provided an opportunity to repair a daycare center for poor children in the region. Through a street campaign with the MalangYMCA in Indonesia, the participants introduced the seriousness of the climate crisis and the importance of planting trees. The Chiangmai YMCA in Thailand provided an opportunity for participants to conduct energy-saving education and campaigns for children in local schools.

(Street Campaign in Malang, Indonesia)

As the participants planned and conducted climate crisis campaigns in Asia by themselves, they came to think deeply about the concept of sustainability. The climate crisis is a huge problem that can only be overcome through solidarity and cooperation among global citizens. However, personal learning and personal efforts to solve the climate crisis are still prevalent in Asian countries. Through their first-hand experience of this reality, they learned that international cooperation and education to reduce carbon and the youth leadership to lead the way are essential.


(Climate campaign with local youths in one local University in Hochiminh city, Vietnam)

Meeting people is a sustainable international solidarity.

The beginning and the end of solidarity is to become friends. The participants talked a lot about the friendships they shared with the staff members of the YMCAs, youths, and the local community. Planting many trees was good, but the experience of making friends with strangers in an unfamiliar environment was more inspiring and exciting than anything else. From now on, the participants will be worried about the Chiangmai YMCA staff members if something happens in Thailand. They will expect to meet the Malang YMCA youths again at APAY events. They will be more interested in the Vietnamese government's climate crisis policy and they will pray that Cambodia will not suffer from a disaster caused by the climate crisis.

Three weeks is a short time to respond to the climate crisis. However, the main goal of the program is to inspire youths to imagine a sustainable Asia and a sustainable earth through making and taking care of their friends in the YMCA international networks. In fact, several participants are planning follow-up programs by themselves, and the NCYK will support their plan. Since the Raonatti is annual program, NCYK will strive to develop a sustainable international cooperation model and a youth climate leadership model with our YMCA friends.

Words from the participants

Junmo Gu – sent to Thailand

Humans are making the earth sick by destroying the environment, and discrimination and hatred between humans have divided the world. Many suffer from war, disease and poverty. I came to think that technology and institution are not the problem, but people. At the same time the solution is people too. Raonatti enhanced my understanding of people and made me work with people for the same goal.

Naeun Hyun - sent to Vietnam

Through this program, I was able to realize my dream of volunteering abroad and lay the groundwork for a better self and a better future. The beautiful scenery of Vietnam, the rich culture, and the precious relationship with the Vietnam YMCA staff members and volunteers gave me unforgettable memories.

Ayeon Lee - sent to Thailand

I think Laonatti has more values than just volunteerism. Living in other country, I can truly understand the nature of the local culture, communicate with the local youths, and feel more colorful emotions. I could realize that more meaningful experiences than I could imagine were unfolding in front of me. I really tried to spend each day meaningfully.

Eun-ju Lee – sent to Cambodia

The YMCA staff members who helped us, the children and teachers at the day care center, the people I met while farming in the community, the college students I met while exchanging culture, the students and teachers of elementary school, and the people I met over the long journey all embraced me with warm warmth. I felt great gratitude for them, and I also want to return the affection I received from them when I came back to Cambodia.


(Playing with a child at the YMCA Day-care center at the Siem Reap, Cambodia)


By Da-eun Yang, NCY of Korea