More than 130 staff, volunteers and supporters took part in the YMCA’s second annual Leaders for Youth conference on Friday and Saturday.

The conference, held at St. Ignatius Catholic School in George Town, offered up two days of learning to the participants to support the YMCA’s work with Cayman’s youth.

“We ended up having more than 130 participants – which we were very excited about,” said YMCA community relations director Vanessa Hansen, noting that staff from the Brac also took part in the exercise.

“It really was a great day bringing staff, volunteers and community partners together. Full of inspiration and incredibly energizing,” said Ms. Hansen.

Established in Cayman in 2012, the YMCA of the Cayman Islands is a charitable, cause-driven, nonprofit organization that strengthens the community through a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, a press release states.

The event’s theme was “Bridge of Hope,” with Friday bringing a full-day of training focused on Y program leaders and administrators, while Saturday brings all staff, volunteers, and program partners together with group activities and breakout sessions.

Saturday’s activities challenged the participants’ teambuilding and collaboration skills, as well as building their knowledge of specific areas related to working with youth.

Sessions included such topics as creating safe physical and emotional environments, community service, conflict resolution, as well as literacy and numeracy basics. Other topics included giving meaningful leadership roles for youth, developing young athletes, positive discipline, working with special needs youth, and character development and values learning.

“We had four trainers from the Y of Greater St. Petersburg, and two from the Westfield Area Y in New Jersey, as well as local presenters from our staff and from Department of Education Services,” said Ms. Hansen.

“We are excited to be able provide this opportunity to come together, share ideas, and reinforce the mission behind the work that we do,” said Y operations director Gillian Roffey.

“We were grateful to have both local and international presenters who provide expertise and cultural exchange opportunities.”

The Y of Greater St. Petersburg and the Westfield area Y provide the YMCA of the Cayman Islands with support, direction, and sharing of best practices. Visiting presenters toured Y programs and had a chance to see some of the popular sites on island.

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