Our exciting and dynamic programme features over 70 seminars, lectures and workshops embracing four key impact areas of health, environment, civic engagement and economic empowerment & youth employment, with an overarching theme of education. Influential keynote speakers and leaders are set to share their knowledge and inspire you to bring about change in your community.


Our prominent speakers include Christian activist and best-selling US author Shane Claiborne, who will stimulate and inspire discussion with devotional keynote speeches, seminars and informal gatherings.

Mental health activist Jeff Spar will be encouraging us to demystify mental health taboos, talk about our mental health and spread hope, along with Canadian social activist and youth leadership specialist Loizza Aquino and YoungMind’s CEO and young people’s mental health campaigner, Emma Thomas.

Hailing from Kosovo, youth policy pioneer Kujtim Gashi will be helping us to focus on creating opportunities for civic engagement, while UK environmental and sustainability expert and theologist Jo Herbert will show us the way to live a waste-free life and encouraging us to think about the impact that waste has on the planet.

We’re also excited to announce that youth voice activist and YMCA alumna Ashley Kolaya will act as a leading plenary host. Ashley directs curation and speaker coaching for TED-Ed and TED Masterclass and will also be offering workshops to help young leaders develop their stories and share their voices in the form of TED-style talk.


There will be five major Panel events to attend that will present unique opportunities to hear the views of the experts, share your opinions, ask questions and learn more in a very interactive way.

The Health & Wellbeing Panel will focus on mental health, and the difficulties that taboos, labels and stigma cause young people. The Economic Empowerment Panel will shine a light on inequalities in the labour market (and the collaboration with corporates which is needed to address them), while the Environment Panel will encourage debate on climate action with positive steps for the future.

The Civic Engagement Panel (comprising experts including Amnesty International’s General Secretary Kumi Naidoo and Archbishop of York and YMCA England & Wales President John Sentamu) will look at how we can create safe spaces to improve the quality of life, and bring about meaningful and lasting change in our communities.

Our special Partnership for the Goals session, led by campaigner and community activist John Loughton and Carlos Sanvee, Secretary General of World YMCA will explore what impact the UN sustainable development goals can have on our future and how to achieve them by 2030.


Performances from artists such as Guvna B (a rapper who won the MOBO Award for Best Gospel Act in 2010), Philippa Hanna (a contemporary Christian music singer-songwriter) and Jake Isaacs (an up-and-coming singer/songwriter) will ensure that everyone can join in with the celebration of 175 years of YMCA. There will also be inspirational poetry from Joshua Idehen and performances from the Saltmine Theatre Company with excerpts from Soul in the Machine, telling the story of founder George Williams and the beginnings of YMCA.


We are proud to announce that our History & Heritage exhibition awaits you in the Plaza and around the venue, supported by UK Heritage Lottery Fund. The interactive heritage exhibition will be the largest ever display of YMCA history and heritage, connecting its past, present and future.

Take your time to read the inspirational accounts of prominent individuals – their work and conviction will inspire you. Discover the impact of the expansion of YMCA throughout the world in history, from YMCA’s relationship with the Olympics, refugee programmes and the United Nations; the origins of basketball; YMCA & the Arts; to life-changing work during wartime.

Themed installations and spaces will provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in stories that intrinsically connect your past with the work of YMCAs around the world today.


Health & Wellbeing is a core value at the very heart of the global YMCA movement. To reflect this there will be a specially designed 4,000 sq metre sports and fitness activities space.

Catering for all levels of ability, you can take time out to enjoy sport and games (some you may have never tried before), such as Ultimate Frisbee, Tamburelli,  Arrow tag and table tennis, with wellbeing activities such as meditation and yoga. 

Our fun and interactive Health & Wellbeing workshops include subjects such as Futebol 3 Tempos, Volleyball and Tree House Camp building.


With over 150 hours of workshop, seminars and sessions at YMCA175, there is so much choice to cater for every interest. Our three Innovation Labs are a great space to build and develop ideas for your community projects or to refine ideas with which to influence change. Interested in human rights? Driven by a desire to make a difference? Our Amnesty Workshops will guide you through the world of  human rights.

We’re excited to announce that our exclusive TED-Ed workshops will teach you how to present a story that you are passionate about in a TED-style talk. You will learn how to shape and organise your story so that it’s impactful, has a global reach and resonates with influencers in your community.

The displacement of people across the world attracts big headlines and is a worldwide issue. Our workshop will focus on YMCA’s heritage and future refugee work, with personal experiences; interaction with the participants; video presentation and a view on the future. A representative from the International Organisation for Migration of the United Nations will give an update about the current situation with refugees.


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