Association Event Network December 2019 | Page 6

YMCA Case Study THE FUTURE OF HISTORY Written by Stuart Wood AEN breaks down an event case study from one of the world’s longest-running associations, which is keeping an eye on its future with some thoughtful legacy projects 6 NOT MANY ASSOCIATIONS boast a 175-year history, but the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) is no ordinary organisation. Founded in 1844 by Sir George Williams, the YMCA today boasts more than 120 national chapters, and reached 42m young people in 2018. It provides projects and services devoted to youth and leadership development around the world. For its 175th anniversary, the YMCA returned to the city in which it was founded – London. YMCA175 was a conference organised by YMCA Europe, as a celebration of the association’s history and its members. It welcomed more than 3,000 people across four days, from 4-7 August. The event team was led by freelance event manager Mike Bromfield, a member of the Conference News 30 under Thirty class of 2019. Bromfield says: “YMCA175 aimed to put young leaders at the heart of the event. It was striving to create new ideas and solutions, and scale existing ones, to address social issues.” YMCA175 featured an impressive lineup of speakers, which included the United Nation’s Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake; UN General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés and Amnesty International’s Kumi Naidoo. The event also struck a unique partnership with TED-Ed, which provided one-to-one coaching to global young leaders, delivering keynote talks in main stage plenary sessions. It’s fun to stay at ExCeL ExCeL London was chosen as the host venue for both its large capacity and its sustainable credentials. Samantha Shamkh, head of conventions, ExCeL London, said: “It was inspiring to have thousands of YMCA young people, staff, guests and volunteers from 100 countries here for a fun-filled, colourful and diverse gathering at ExCeL London. “With its unmatched connectivity and ability to draw world-class speakers across almost any subject, London remains the best destination for any association event seeking to inspire, celebrate and look forward – just as the amazing YMCA175 did.” Although the YMCA is an association with a long history, the legacy projects which followed in the wake of YMCA175 have been keeping an eye towards the future. Bromfield says: “Following the success of YMCA175 and building on its legacy, YMCA was approached by the UN Youth Envoy to host global Watch Parties for the UN’s inaugural youth climate summit that took place at the end of September in New York. The UN is now looking ahead to a calendar of youth-solution summits in the future. “Another legacy initiative born out of the event was the showcasing and collation of history and heritage. Thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, a unique exhibition of YMCA’s global history is embarking on a six-month tour of venues across the country.” The Gallery “YMCA175 aimed to put young leaders at the heart of the event. It was striving to create new ideas and solutions to address social issues.”