Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) is a global ecumenical movement for young people, working in 125 countries, with over 45 million members. YMCAs work towards social justice and peace for young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture.


The Barbados Branch of the YMCA

The Barbados branch of the YMCA was started in 1880 and through its courses camps and sporting events, has been able to convey Christian dominance on all with whom it has come into contact with. It is supported financially by its own fund raising efforts, programmes, hostel services, and a small government subvention. It's affiliation was with the National YMCA in London and it has structured its activities on those of the older association. High esteem by the public of Barbados has been gained by the Barbados YMCA gained high esteem with the public because of the YMCA's excellent work with the armed forces based on the island during the World War II.


A reduction in assistance from the Government of Barbados coupled with membership loss saw the Barbados branch of the YMCA come under some distress in the 1900s. This resulted in a reduction in some of its operations, including the closure of the canteen.


History of the World Alliance of YMCAs

In 1844 twelve young men led by George Williams founded the first YMCA in London, England. Their principal objective was the "improvement of the spiritual condition of the young men engaged in houses of business, by the formation of Bible classes, family and social prayer meetings, mutual improvement societies, or any other spiritual agency."



Together with the other founding members, George Williams wasted no time in organising YMCA branches throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Over the next ten years, YMCA Movements also began to develop across Western Europe, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and India.


The idea of creating a truly global movement with an international headquarters was pioneered by Henry Dunant, Secretary of YMCA Geneva, who would later go on to found the International Committee of the Red Cross and win the first Nobel Peace Prize. Henry Dunant successfully convinced YMCA Paris to organise the first YMCA World Conference. The Conference took place in August 1855, bringing together 99 young delegates from nine countries.


The Conference adopted the Paris Basis affirming the YMCA’s mission and purpose, and created the Central International Committee. The Committee operated without a headquarters until 1878, when a permanent headquarters and formal structure for the Committee was created in Geneva, Switzerland. This was a turning point for the Central International Committee that would eventually become known as the World Alliance of YMCAs.


Further information on the Young Men's Christian Association, Pinfold Street, Bridgetown, Barbados can be sourced at the following website Telephone (246) 426-3910/435-2230 or Email: .


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