| May 30, 2023

Kingston YMCA celebrates 103 years

Candice Stewart

Candice Stewart / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Kingston YMCA (KYMCA), founded on June 9 in 1920 will celebrate 103 years of community development work to Jamaica on Friday (June 9).

To mark the occasion, a church service will be held at the Phillippo Baptist Church in Spanish Town, St. Catherine, on Sunday (June 4).

In an interview with Our Today, Allan Roy Marsh, chairman of the Kingston YMCA said, “we were to officially celebrate our 100 year anniversary in 2020. However, everything got derailed because of the [COVID-19] pandemic. So, this 103 year anniversary is significant in that it gives us an opportunity to really reflect on our achievements and being around to contribute to community development in Jamaica. We are among the oldest non-profits in Jamaica and we are very active in the community in a number of areas.”

“Recently, we were able to restart our annual swim meet which is the YMCA/Burger King Prep and Primary School Swim Championships. It was held on May 5 and that was a major milestone for us because it was our contribution to Child’s Month celebrations and we can finally host events again,” he said.

“The swim meet has grown tremendously into the largest under 12 swimming competition in the entire Caribbean region. We had 37 schools from across the island and 540 swimmers in total. In addition to that, we are planning on hosting a Swimathon in last quarter of the year. The aim of the event is to raise funds for our various programmes at the Kingston YMCA,” he added, noting that the non-profit is not subsidised by the government, so they are trying to find ways to support their work through fund raising activities such as the swimathon.

The programmes currently offered at the KYMCA are multi-focused. These include the Youth Development Programme (formerly the Street Corner Boys’ Programme), the Leadership Development Training Programme (for young people between the ages 14-26 years), aquatics, tae-kwon-do, badminton, summer camp, and counselling. The organisation also facilitates sports and games for persons with disabilities among others.

Honouring Sarah Newland Martin

The late Sarah Newland-Martin

With the passing of former administrator and general secretary of the KYMCA on June 8, 2022, the organisation slipped into a period of mourning. However, they have been comforted by her memory and legacy she left behind, especially with her community development work through the Kingston YMCA.

Marsh said, “The swim meet we recently held in early May was held in Sarah’s honour. The championship trophy, which was won by Hillel Academy, has been renamed the Sarah Newland-Martin Championship trophy and will remain as such.

The KYMCA chairman also highlighted that swimathon scheduled for the last quarter of the year may also be named in honour of Newland Martin.

Sarah Newland-Martin

“Though, not necessarily linked to our 103 year anniversary, I must say that our affiliated swim club, The Y Speedos, had a special trophy in Mrs. Martin’s honour at their Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Swim Meet held in February of this year,” said Marsh.

The Karl Dalhouse Memorial Invitational Swim Meet is held in honour of Karl Dalhouse, past general-secretary of the KYMCA.

In a statement highlighting the celebration of its 103rd anniversary, the KYMCA said, “Throughout its history, the YMCA has sought to fulfill its original mandate, which is embedded in its mission statement: “To build a family organisation that enables the development of young people through structured activities geared towards the strengthening of spirit, mind and body; and promote YMCA principles and Christian values of love, peace, service and justice.”

As we celebrate this important milestone, we are very proud of our achievements over the years, and this has been demonstrated clearly in large-scale community outreach programmes, such as the establishment of the Boys’ Town institution.

Kingston YMCA

“Boys’ Town was established for vocational training, education, sports, culture and spiritual upliftment of depressed youth in western Kingston. It emerged, at the time, as the most ambitious youth and social development programme ever undertaken by a YMCA in the Caribbean,” the statement continued.

The KYMCA also stated that it pledges their continued commitment to the development of young people in Jamaica with solid Christian values.

Get in touch with the Kingston YMCA at 21 Hope Road.

Send feedback to [email protected]


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