YMCA Bitola is a non-profit, nongovernmental, nonreligious and an inclusive youth association which aims to provide opportunities for local youth and to actively work with them in our community. YMCA Macedonia is a part of the YMCA family spread throughout 119 countries worldwide reaching over 58 million people. YMCA Bitola was established in May 2002.
The main goal of the Association is to provide activities and opportunities in the field of non-formal education, promoting healthy lifestyles, arts and culture, and civil society that develop positive values and attitudes among young people.
We believe that youth need space to explore their ideas.
We want our young people to develop their inherent potential so they can meet the ever-changing needs of the world, their communities, and shape their own futures.
We will work to provide these opportunities.
Empowering youth to develop their fullest potential in spirit, mind and body.
VALUES that we nurture and support:
Caring – To care for yourself, the others and the community.
Honesty – To be truthful in what you say and do.
Respect – To treat yourself, all people and your community with dignity and acceptance.
Responsibility – To be accountable for your promises and actions.
Courage – To face challenges and lead.
Creativity – To find new solutions to challenges.
Enthusiasm – To find your inspiration to create change.
We welcome all people with a focus on youth.
We focus on activities of public interest: non-formal education, culture and art, healthy lifestyle, civil society and children's rights. We accomplish our activities through: trainings, seminars, workshops, camps, festivals, international study visits and other activities. We work on both local and international levels. Check out our activities here.
Members of the staff team are:
Viktor Iliev, President of YMCA Bitola, Director of YMLP and GLOW camps
Elena G. Kostadinovikj, Administration, finances and communication
Jovche Krsteski, Project Coordinator (European Voluntary Service)
Tose Ivanovski, Project Coordinator (Implementation of the Convention of Children Rights in Macedonia)
Marija Robe and Vasil Kocevski, Change agents
David Strouse, Peace Corps Volunteer at YMCA Bitola
YMCA Bitola is grateful to receive support from many other long and short term volunteers.
Moments from YMCA Bitola’s history
2002 Founding YMCA Bitola on 31.05.2002. We commenced with work on humble initiatives as was the case with taking mountain trips, ping pong recreational competitions and similar. The Balkan Camp in Nymfaio, Greece was founded, which enabled our participants to learn about outdoor learning. The camp was held for 10 years.
2003 The first issue of the YMCA Bitola newsletter later known as NotifY came out. In National Park Pelister we organized a camp for youth from Denmark and Macedonia. A group of young volunteers in Macedonia took part in the great YMCA Europe festival in Prague.
2004 YMCA Bitola opened their first office which was used as a place for developing activities for the youth. Y-Movie began with work and through videos documented YMCA Bitola’s history. In Macedonia we successfully organized the first larger international event Balkan Leadership Training 3 where 80 participants took part from Macedonia and abroad.
2005 The Juggling group Acid Triple became a part of YMCA Bitola followed by a number of performing shows in Bitola and throughout Europe. We organized the Balkan Program Festival “Balkan Mosaics” with YMCA Europe with more than 130 participants from many countries from Europe.
2006 Y-Comics began with work followed by several comics illustration exhibits as well as the issue of several comics publications on a variety of topics. Participation at the YMCA World Assembly in Durban, South Africa.
2007 We have joined in the international Synergy network training for Personal Development. The YMCA Bitola training program marked its beginning with workshops, personal development trainings, camps and gained many active volunteers. In Macedonia we organized Balkan Leadership Training 4 with YMCA Europe. We became members and significantly contributed to the Forum of Associations from Bitola.
2008 YMCA Macedonia grew from an associate organization into a full member organization of YMCA Europe. We worked on the first Synergy training for personal development in Macedonia. Achieved great success within the framework of Art and Culture Program through Y-Comics, Y-Movie, Acid Triple via many numerous activities and events. We took part in the second big festival in YMCA Europe in Prague.
2009 We organized the Balkan Leadership Training 5 in Macedonia together with YMCA Europe. We strengthened the leadership structure in the organization through participation in several personal development trainings, mainly in Holland.
2010 We started working with the European Voluntary Service, as well as with the Peace Corps volunteers in Macedonia. We became part of the Coalition of Youth Associations SEGA, which was followed up by a numerous activities in the following years, mainly focusing on the children rights. We expanded the target group and we started working with young people aged from 11 to 17. We have deepened the collaboration with the local schools.
2011 YMCA Bitola became the national office of YMCA Macedonia. Together with the Peace Corps volunteers, YMCA Bitola started working on the YMLP camp (Young Men’s Leadership Project). We took part in the big program festival that YMCA Europe organized in Ukraine.
2012 We were part of the global YMCA World Challenge basketball event together with 432.000 people in 86 different countries. We became part of the long-term project for peace education called “Roots for Reconciliation”. We have initiated a core for development of YMCA Europe’s camp program.
2013 We were part of “Beautiful Days” Festival in Denmark, along with 1.500 other participants from the entire world. YMCA Bitola received the annual award for innovative practices in the work with volunteers. In Bitola we organized two international trainings as part of the EU youth program “Youth in Action”. We became part of the global program for young leaders “Change Agents” run by the World YMCA. Together with other twenty youth associations we founded the Union of Youth Work, in order to work towards recognition of the youth worker and the youth work as a profession.
2014 We took part in the world’s largest research of YMCA about young people called “One Million Voices”. We realized numerous activities as a part of different projects, such as the voluntary service, trainings, camps, art and culture, healthy lifestyle and civil society.
2015 As a result of the successful collaboration in the YMLP camp (Young Men's Leadership Project), YMCA Bitola expanded the collaboration with the Peace Corps volunteers and we started working on the GLOW camp (Girls Leading Our World), as well. The camp program of YMCA Bitola is expanding with the participation in few other international camps, as well as with the start of the long-term work camp (Macedonia, France and Germany).
2016 We have become part of the non-formal global network for outdoor education called “Outdoor as a Tool” and part of the No Hate Speech National Committee. Also, we participated in several workshops and discussions about recognition of youth work in our country.
YMCA Macedonia emphasize the interaction among our youth working together for personal development of spirit, mind and body. We stimulate our young people in their diversity and creativity providing opportunities for better future for all.
We see youth as our main target group, human recourse and development potential. We offer them possibilities for healthy development of spirit, mind and body through different group and personal activities involving creative work, intellectual challenges and getting new skills and knowledge. We empower all, especially young people to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels. We are building awareness of the cultural differences.
The headquarters of YMCA Macedonia is based in Bitola providing activities and opportunities for more than 2.000 young people annually.
General about YMCA
The YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) is one of the oldest and largest Movements for youth in the world. Founded in 1844, it now operates in 119 countries in 11.220 locations, involving 725.483 volunteers and reaching 58 million people. The YMCA works to bring social justice and peace to young people and their communities, regardless of religion, race, gender or culture.
The World Alliance of YMCAs is based in Geneva, Switzerland and YMCA Europe is based in Prague, Czech Republic. YMCA in different countries is known by different names depending on the domestic languages: YMCA, IMKA, CVJM, UCJG, KFUK, NMKY, CEVI, HANTH, ACM, ACJ, etc. In Macedonia and other countries in South Eastern Europe, the YMCA is known as IMKA. The sign of the YMCA is a red triangle with the motto “for healthy spirit, mind and body”.
Field of work
Local and National YMCA Associations are strongly rooted in their communities. Depending on the local context and priority issues affecting young people, YMCAs operate in a wide range of program areas including: sustainable development, education & vocational training, gender equality, climate change, health & HIV/AIDS, prevention, inter-faith dialogue, food security, leadership development,
migration, civic engagement & human rights education, emergency response, peace-building.
Through these actions, YMCAs are creating long-lasting change in the lives of millions of youth and the communities of which they are part. In all activities, strong emphasis is given to youth leadership and youth participation.
The model of CHANGE
At all continents of the world, the YMCA is working to empower young people and to transform communities with an embedded change model of SPACE-TRANSFORMATION-IMPACT. This model is a common DNA in our activities and that’s why being part of the YMCA is a life changing experience.
History of YMCA
1851 The YMCA idea had popularized. In Great Britain there were over 2 700 members in 24 associations, but also in Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Canada. The YMCA was established in the USA. The YMCA opened many fitness centers, gym halls and other sport centers.
1852 The first Secretary General of YMCA in Geneva was Henri Dunant. He was the future founder of the Red Cross. In 1901 he received the Nobel Prize for peace.
1855 Uniting the YMCA national movements worldwide by formation of the YMCA Federation (later World Alliance of YMCAs) at the First International Conference of YMCA held in Paris, France.
1889 The red triangle became the official symbol of the Organization. The triangle indicates the main goals of the YMCA: harmonious development of people's spirit, mind and body.
1891 James Nesmith, instructor of the YMCA Training College in Springfield, Massachusetts (USA), created basketball, which expanded through all colleges and camps in the YMCA of USA and worldwide later.
1894 (50 years from the YMCA foundation). George Williams received the title “Sir” for lifetime achievement from the British Queen Victoria.
1914 YMCA is actively involved in World War One as a volunteer organization financed by public donations, distinguishing itself from other organizations financed by governmental resources.
1900-1920 YMCA expanded in the Balkans.
1926 According to the YMCA’s research, the YMCA has over 10 000 associations and over 1 700 000 members all around the world.
1939-1945 YMCA is actively involved in World War Two with a special emphasis on working with refugees and displaced persons. Also YMCA actively participated in supplying the troops with food and medicine (opening mobile canteens and hospitals) etc.
1946 For his work with the war prisoners during the two World Wars, the President of the YMCA John R. Mott received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
1948-1960 YMCA played a leading role in developing youth and social programs all around the world. The YMCA is actively involved in working with youth and protecting the rights of children, the handicapped, elderly and feeble people, homeless, people with special needs, support for families and parents etc.
1973 Foundation of YMCA Europe.
1973 The Sixth Conference of World Alliance of YMCAs is held in Kampala, Uganda where one of the basic principles of the YMCA was enacted.
1982 For help in refugee programs YMCA received a special recognition from the United Nations (UN).
1990's After the fall of the socialism there was a massive rebirth of YMCA in South East Europe. In the second half of the '90s the new YMCAs of South-East Europe, became an engine for the YMCA in Europe bringing lots of new members, new ideas, new approaches and new programs.
1998 At the 14th General Assembly of the National Alliance of YMCAs in Frechen, one more basic document for the YMCA"Challenge 21" which is the vision of the YMCA for the coming period was adopted.
The 21st century is period with increased dynamic of activities in order to empower the young people from all over the world. Going down the right path, the YMCA continues to write the history.
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