We are a non-profit, civil, non-religious, inclusive organization that offers opportunities for our youth and active work with them. In Bitola YMCA was founded in 2002 and carries out activities mainly on a local level. The YMCA is part of the World YMCA which is spread in 119 countries and includes more than 58 million people.
Our mission is to empower young people and work to develop their inherent potential by providing them with the skills and knowledge necessary to become active leaders in their communities. This is realized through experiential education that celebrates diversity and builds academic and social competencies.
We work in the field of non-formal education for youth, offering youth support in decision-making processes, promoting youth activism, volunteering, healthy habits and building society that encourages positive values and behaviors among young people. Specifically, our scope of work and contribution to the community is in two fields:
We are grateful to receive support
also from many other long and short term volunteers.
To care for yourself, the others and the community.
To be truthful in what you say and do.
To treat yourself, all people and your community with dignity and acceptance.
To be accountable for your promises and actions.
To face challenges and lead.
To find new solutions to challenges.
To find your inspiration to create change.
The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is one of the oldest and largest youth movements in the whole world. In a way, it can be considered as one of the first civic organizations that aimed to improve the wellbeing of young people. Founded by George Williams and his 11 friends in 1844 in London, the YMCA currently operates in 119 countries in 11,220 locations, includes 725,483 volunteers and reaches 58 million people.
The YMCA works on projects and actions aimed at developing young people through a wide range of youth activities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture. World YMCA is headquartered in Geneva, while YMCA Europe is headquartered in Brussels. In other countries, the YMCA can be found under different names depending on their national languages: YMCA, IMKA, CVJM, UCJG, KFUM, NMKY, CEVI, HANTH, ACM, ACJ, etc. In Macedonia and other countries in Southeast Europe is known as YMCA. The official sign of the YMCA is the red triangle, which expresses the basic commitment of the YMCA: harmonious development of man on a spiritual, mental and physical level.
National and local YMCA organizations work in a wide range of program areas depending on the challenges and needs of the youth and local communities where they operate, including: sustainable development, education and vocational training, gender equality, climate change, health, interfaith dialogue, security of food, leadership development, migration, civic participation and human rights education, emergency response, peacebuilding. All these fields are systematized and explained in the YMCA World Vision 2030 strategy with four pillars of influence where YMCA organizations create long-term changes in the lives of millions of young people and the environments where they live. On all continents of the world, the YMCA works to empower young people and transform communities through an embedded model for change that consists of: SPACE-TRANSFORMATION-IMPACT. This model is the DNA of all our activities and therefore being a part of the YMCA is a life-changing experience.
Brief timeline of the activities of YMCA in Bitola:
2020-2022 YMCA Bitola was part of the first state-certified procedure for receiving officially recognized (within the framework of our country laws) youth workers! We also took part in the joint efforts to establish a local youth center in the Bitola Municipality.
2016-2019 We worked on our key youth development program GLOW-IMLP which in 2017 we upgraded by working on a network of youth clubs of alumni campers. We were awarded with National Award. During this time, we established the YMCA Europe Outdoor Camps Program that we had initiated a few years earlier and joined the Global Informal Outdoor Education Network and the Financial Sustainability Network.
2013-2015 In 2013 YMCA Bitola received the annual award for innovative practices in the work with volunteers. In 2014 and 2015 we organized and co-organized several international trainings as part of the EU youth program “Youth in Action”. We became part of the World YMCA program for young leaders “Change Agents”, together with other twenty youth associations we founded the Union of Youth Work, to attain recognition of the youth workers and the youth work as a profession in the country. In 2015 we expanded the successful collaboration with the Peace Corps in the direction to strengthen the summer leadership camp for girls GLOW (Girls Leading our World) following the successful work on the summer leadership camp for boys YMLP (Young Men’s Leadership Project). The camp program of YMCA Bitola offered numerous camp learning opportunities in several international camps in The Netherlands, France, Germany, etc.)..
2010-2012 In 2010 we started working with the European Voluntary Service, соработка со Peace Corps taking the responsibility for development of летниот лидерски камп за момчиња YMLP (Young Men’s Leadership Project), we joined the Coalition of Youth Organization SEGA following up numerous activities in the field of youth participation and children rights until 2016. In 2011 we became a national office of YMCA in Macedonia.
2007-2009 We have joined the international Synergy network for personal development trainings. Our YMCA team focused more on outdoor camps and training programs and began attending various outdoor type of workshops, personal development trainings and gained many active followers in the upcoming years. We organized a few editions of the Balkan Leadership Trainings in Macedonia together with YMCA Europe.
2004-2006 Developed several youth programs involving local youth as volunteers such as: the Y-Movie, the fire juggling group Acid Triple, Y-Comics, NotifY newsletter. In this period we successfully organized the first larger international event Balkan Leadership Training #3 for 80 participants and the Balkan Program Festival – Balkan Mosaics with YMCA Europe with more than 130 participants from many countries from Europe.
2002-2003 Founding YMCA Bitola on 31.05.2002. We started with work on humble initiatives as was the case with taking mountain hiking trips, ping pong recreational competitions and similar. Balkan Camp in Nymfeo, Greece was one of the first more serious programs that offered our participants to learn about camps and outdoor learning and to fall in love with camping. This camp was run for 10 years by an international team of campers alumni from the Balkan YMCAs. In 2003 in the National Park Pelister we organized a camp for youth from Denmark and Macedonia.
2001 We started as a non-formal youth-led club, building relations with YMCA Skopje who started with work in 1999.
About the founding of the organization by George Williams (later awarded by the Queen of England for this work), its popularization and spread in many countries of the world, about the role of Henri Dunant in the YMCA, about the founding of basketball by James Naismith at the YMCA College in Springfield, as well as volleyball by William G. Morgan, for the involvement and contribution of the YMCA in reducing the consequences of the two world wars (later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. John Mott),,about contribution and the work with refugees and other vulnerable groups, and finally on the expansion of the YMCA movement towards Eastern European countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall, etc. you can find more on the history of the YMCA.
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