Youth Empowerment

The Asia Pacific Youth Mobilisation Summit 2023 and Climate Defenders Workshop

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Last Updated (Tuesday, 04 July 2023 16:51)

Attending two regional events “back-to-back” was like a double lucky strike for me! 

The first event was the Asia Pacific Youth Mobilisation Summit 2023, which was held on June 15-18 in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Initiated and hosted by the Scout Movement of Malaysia, about 160 participants from 5 members of the Big 6 Youth Organisations participated in the event. The main mission of the Summit was to investigate and establish a collaborative, multi-stakeholder project among the young people of the Big 6 Youth Organisations on the subject of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

YMCA moderating forum at the Summit

Over the years, the extreme episodes of climate changes have led to a chain of climate events that need our attention more than ever. APAY has taken the stand as the advocates not just with regards to climate awareness, but also as the educators and solution providers for climate defenders across the Asia Pacific. Through the E-learning platforms, climate action campaigns, exchange programs, and the Global Alternative Tourism Network, APAY has enlightened the individuals, primarily the younger demographic, on their role in combating climate change and ecological concerns. 

There were only 16 of us from the YMCA at the Youth Summit, but we made up for our comparatively small number through our active participation and taking on leadership roles in various sessions during the Summit. Most significantly, we were able to share and highlight our work and programs on the environment and climate change with the other members of the Big 6. We now eagerly look forward to collaborating with them and having their support and participation in our future climate action campaigns such as the #EarthHour2Earth Day climate action challenge. 

YMCA Delegates at the Summit

Keeping up with the momentum from the Youth Summit, we continued with a workshop roundtable for our YMCA representatives of the Asia Pacific to share and enlighten each other on the various initiatives and future actions that can be implemented in their own organisations effectively. The Climate Defenders Workshop was held at and hosted by the Kuala Lumpur YMCA on June 19-20, 2023. Participants of the Workshop were staffs and youth leaders from YMCAs of Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. 

The Climate Defenders programme seeks to address and work towards achieving the long-term goal of educating and behavioural shift among individuals from various societies to practice sustainable lifestyle and habits. It also focuses on collaboration and idea exchange that can be replicated or implemented in their various respective organisations. A clear vision of improving climate advocacy was brought to understanding through the roundtable discussions. For example, YMCA of Hong Kong conducted several environmental activities of the past year such as second-hand bookstores, organic farming, bread recycling, and so much more as part of their goal to raise environmental conscious consumers alongside their larger scale collaborations with their government towards electricity consumption. New Bhedaghat YMCA in India focused on agriculture-based solutions to amplify their outreach of climate and environment awareness, by educating their people regarding the various plants that can be used for medicinal purpose, wellness consumption and used to leverage agriculture-based economy for their underprivileged communities as well. They shared their initiatives of Plant Adopting, Seed Donation, and river cleaning among the effective methods to cultivate green advocacy among the younger generation, primarily among children. 

Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand YMCAs shared their initiatives where they conducted campaigns through their collaborations alongside their government, corporate, and education system. They presented their implemented programmes and awareness of climate advocacy through environmental conservation practices such as reducing the use of air conditioners during certain hours, paper reduction in offices as well as the 3R method. Beyond corporate walls, they have also worked alongside their various government and education departments to bring awareness towards environmental welfare among their young minds. Organising camps, workshops, skill craft training, community visits, and interactive programmes have enabled them to reach out to their communities through the involvement of community leaders and decision makers within their vicinity. 

YMCA Kuala Lumpur shared their approach in promoting green environment and awareness through their various action plans such as “no 1-time plastic usage”, recycling initiatives organising interactive environment campaigns for children as well as conducting the Global Alternative Tourism Network among fellow YMCA around the world to make way for a sustainable tourism among individuals. 

The programmes that were implemented in their respective organisations became crucial blueprints for us to converge and create future recommendations and policies to be implemented within our own YMCAs in the long term. Certain projects were seen as potential effective policies that focused on the reduction of carbon emission as well as the enhancement to reach a larger audience engagement towards environment awareness. 

The guideline included methods in measuring action plans and engagement within their organisation over a period of time to evaluate the effectiveness of the policies. The policies included Green Resource management & training, electricity and resource management such as paper, water usage that can be done among the staffs, educating them as well in the process. 

A key component that was identified crucial in policy making was to increase the knowledge of the various climate and environmental concerns that require attention among the public. This is very important as only certain climate issues are brought to the public attention or they are aware of. For example, green environment awareness focuses on the 3Rs of environment conservation which the public do have the knowledge about, however there is only a handful that are well-equipped with the understanding of carbon emission and waste management or sustainable alternatives. Through proper workshops or expert guidance, the public can be well-educated on Climate Awareness and Actions as a whole and be environmentally responsible in all aspects of sustainable living. 

This effort is aligned with the effective promotion and marketing strategies in order to change the public perception and understanding towards climate issues that will in turn leverage YMCA exposure across the globe to be part of decision-making positions. 

In order to consider and implement these future recommendations and policies, the prime anchor was to identify and acknowledge the diversity of YMCAs across the globe and how to replicate the policies to be effective in the different levels of YMCAs in order to reach the ultimate motive: sustainability and combat climate issues. 

Through policy knowledge and resource exchange, whether in the form of manpower or financial support, YMCAs can collaborate together to introduce new and effective campaigns or programmes for increase of global effect and outreach. Through this synergy, YMCAs organisation can focus on bringing various programmes across the globe according to each of their target demographic without straining their resources or funds separately but equally and according to their concerning focuses. 

Alongside the Asia Pacific Youth Mobilization Summit and the Climate Defenders Workshop, several key initiatives and projects that were shared have high capability to be implemented and cultivated among the YMCAs organisation through well-constructed strategies in the near future. 

As a whole, the Summit and Workshop gave a platform for the youths and representatives of YMCAs to showcase and develop effective projects not only in the focus of environment conservation, but also to reserve and propose sustainable projects that are both cost-effective and resource-friendly.

Edited by Chan Beng Seng
Coordinator, APAY


Manila Downtown YMCA Held the 16th Youth Club Summer Camp

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Last Updated (Friday, 30 June 2023 14:21)

The Manila Downtown YMCA Youth Club Summer Camp (YCSC) is an annual leadership camp for the incoming Grade 10 to incoming college freshman from various Chinese-Filipino Schools to develop fundamental skills to kick-start their leadership journey.

This year, marking its 16th year, the camp was finally held onsite since the pandemic. This year’s 2-week-long camp was conducted both online (Zoom) and onsite (Manila Downtown YMCA). Before the camp began, the YCSC participants attended an orientation held on May 6, 2023, where they learned the camp's basics and became acquainted with the fellow participants and organizers through various activities.

The Camp Day 1 was held on May 13, 2023 and had sessions and activities focused on the self and team. The participants met the first speaker, Atty. Philip Yeung, who gave an interesting and insightful talk about how we must understand ourselves to help us with our journey. Another speaker that gave a talk that day was Mr. Lance Capulong. He gave wise advice on “Initiative & Servant Leadership.” The two talks were also respectively followed by reflection and synthesis sessions.

The Camp Day 2 was held on May 20, 2023. The third speaker for the camp, Mr. David Leechiu, talked about “Confidence Building” as the participants listened attentively to his talk.

After the talk and other activities, every group participated in the ever-exciting Amazing Race. Here, every team utilized their wits, intelligence, speed, and most importantly their teamwork as they went through different challenges and riddles to complete the activity. After the activity, they were asked how they felt and most participants mentioned how tiring and fun it was.

On May 21, 2023, during Camp Day 3, Dr. Charles Tan and Mr. Hero Go talked about “Volunteerism” and “The YMCA Movement", respectively. Following that, Mr. Justin Tembresa showed the participants a glimpse of the MDYMCA Youth Club’s identity. He shared his leadership journey and the platform it offers to the budding youth leaders. The 2-week-long camp ended with the special award ceremony, which recognized groups who have shown exemplary qualities and efforts throughout the camp. On this day, campers also wrote heartfelt messages to each other and to the camp organizers. 

Kick-starting the leadership journeys of the new batch of YCSC participants, this year’s YCSC consisted of different engaging and insightful talks, challenging activities, and bonding sessions for the participants to familiarise themselves with each other and with the values of the YMCA. It is evident that each camper was able to carry with them a lot of learning and knowledge through the camp, which will surely be of great help as each one of them starts their unique leadership journey.

Lastly, the Manila Downtown YMCA Board of Directors would like to express its deepest gratitude to its Executive Director, the student organisers of YCSC 16, distinguished speakers, as well as our partner & Camp Moderator, Mr. Emmanuel Rentoy of CEP Philippines.

Written by: Eliana Ong & Paige Yu
Edited by: Justin Tembresa & Danica Chua
Photos by: Jergen Sy, Aisha Go, & Edrick Yao


“YMCA Manila Gives Hope to 100 Mothers” - Youth-Led Solutions Initiatives for Future of Work

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Last Updated (Tuesday, 30 May 2023 11:44)

During the pandemic, society became more demanding in all aspects and dependent on technology.

With the combined efforts of the YMCA of Manila, Inc., Accenture and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the threat of the society due to the pandemic was converted into an opportunity to work and get along with the demand of the economy through a project called “Nanay’s in IT”.

The Nanay’s in IT is an upskilling program with the purpose of helping members in the indigent communities to acquire Information Technology (IT) - focused skills and prepare them for jobs in IT companies. Its overall goal is for the learners to have sufficient knowledge and experience regarding IT skills, pass certification exams, be employed in IT companies, gain higher earnings, provide better support to learners’ families and inspire their communities to improve their lives. The project was composed of online learning, practical application/On-The-Job-Training (OJT), certifications and further education. The participant is called “Learners”.

A learner is identified as “Nanay”, a Filipino word that means MOTHER in English. They are chosen because they have a responsibility to themselves and their families. The participants are adults ages 18 to 35 years old who are not necessarily female or mothers in particular but by nature. They can be the breadwinners of the family. Another qualification must be an undergraduate who struggles to return to school because of the continuous unavoidable responsibility to the family. The learner must not have previous employment in high-paying companies with positions as a call centre agent, sales agent, insurance agent, etc. The learner’s employment experience is preferably from a blue-collar job, online seller or the like.

Currently, 45 learners are taking their OJTs in some of the large companies in the Philippines, such as Accenture, 2go, SM, PLDT, Meralco and the like. At the end of the program, YMCA, PBSP and Accenture are working hand in hand so that the learners will get employed or absorbed by their OJT site or to any other companies. Through the program, they have gained the confidence and certain competency to work and land in a regular job. The program runs from October 2022 – 2023.

Meanwhile, the Nanay’s in IT is one of the continuous plans of the Success Academy project developed by the Youth Leadership & Development Committee of the YMCA of Manila funded by the World Alliance of YMCAs through the seed grant of Youth Led Solutions Initiatives Summit for Future of Work. The Success Academy is the anchoring model of the Nanay’s in IT towards working on initiatives pertaining to Future of Work.

The Success Academy developed a module called “A Guide to Get Hired” which aims to help the youth define their own meaning of success by providing them with situations, realistic expectations, training for upskilling, mentoring, and coaching. The Success Academy has produced 62 beneficiaries. The content of the modules are Success Definition, Personal Branding, Job Application & Interview, Rest & Mindfulness, Financial Management, Continuous Learning Session and Elective Module on Free review of Civil Service Eligibility Examination with Mock Test. The mode of learning were combinations of Online & Face-Face Mentoring, Simulations and Immersion. The program was held from May 2022 – February 2023.

During these times when the economy is unstable, we intend to lend a helping hand and equip the new generation of professionals with focus and courage. The totality of the program is for every individual to dream and define for their own success with the help of different doors that will shine in front of them. Everyone must be presented with various opportunities to ultimately realize it. The YMCA of Manila will still inculcate the value of dedication for it is not a guaranteed sprint but a marathon journey for them. Through various efforts, there will always be a hope that it is not yet the end of the line for them.

By: Ivory C. Manio
Related Secretary for Community Development & Special Projects
YMCA of Manila, Inc. - Philippines