YMCA reaches new heights

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YMCA Cayman Islands has received its official charter at a global meeting of YMCAs in the Rocky Mountains. 

YMCA Cayman Islands, together with 83 other country representatives, gathered earlier this month for the YMCA’s 18th World Council Meeting in Colorado, where the newly established YMCA became an official member of the World Alliance of YMCAs.  

“The meeting on top of the mountain was a fantastic experience all around,” said CEO of YMCA Cayman Greg Smith. 

“We also met with Latin American friends who conduct their meetings in Spanish which was interesting. Our regional affiliation is through Latin America,” he added. 

Cayman’s YMCA is also affiliated with the Latin American and Caribbean Alliance of YMCAs due to its location. In order for Cayman’s YMCA to receive a charter, the group had to develop local policy that was in line with the credentials and standards set by the World Alliance.  

The week-long meeting is held every four years and is organized by the World Alliance of YMCAs, the governing body of the organization. The meeting offers a forum for YMCAs from around the world to meet, vote on policies, and induct new nations seeking membership. 

“It’s quite an honor to receive our charter and be recognized on a global scale,” said Pastor Randy Von Kanel, chairman of YMCA Cayman Islands. “We live in such an amazing place, yet we have immense potential to improve on the standard of life in the community.  

“The YMCA has the programs and services that make it the perfect conduit for channeling the greatness in the people of our islands.” 

With the help of the already established YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg in Florida, YMCA Cayman Islands was launched in February. Since then, the organization has embarked on various community projects and has raised nearly $400,000 towards initial establishment of the organization. 

Having collected feedback from the community through its community needs assessment, Cayman’s YMCA has determined the main area of need is programs for youth. 

The latest community service project the YMCA was involved with was “Family Fun Fitness” classes in June.  

“We’ve been partnering with the Family Resource Centre to offer exercise classes in circuit training for all ages and fitness levels for free,” said Mr. Smith, adding that the YMCA hoped to offer similar fitness classes on a large scale later this year.  

Mr. Smith said the YMCA is planning to partner with schools to offer teen leadership opportunities and “to develop programs for teens.” One of the programs teaches teens how to become swim instructors so they can help other kids to learn how to swim, he said. 

Other programs the YMCA has carried out include: “Summer of Dreams” Day Camp for children, Teen Leaders, “Camp for Life” overnight camp for teens, and the Team Development program.  

Over the next year, the YMCA aims to continue helping to strengthen the community. “We have plenty of work to do,” said Mr. Smith, “but we’re not doing it alone.” 

“We have fantastic support from caring, generous and influential partners in the community that are dedicated to insuring the Cayman Islands is the most wonderful place in the world to live,” he added. 

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Pastor Randy Von Kanel, Greg Smith and St. Petersburg YMCA’s CEO David Jezek in Colorado.

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CEO of YMCA Cayman Islands Greg Smith sports the Cayman flag at the global World Council meeting in the Rockies.

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