7 Club members led by Eric Rainey - PE Ken, David Boyd, Brian Clements, John McCleery, John O'Carroll and Alan Rundle - visited on Monday 27 January the YMCA Youth Team in Knightsbridge Park. They were the winners of the Club's John Savage Award last year (details here). They were made extremely welcome and were hugely impressed.
Manager Howard Davey reviewed the history of the YMCA in Belfast from its origins in 1850, its residence in Wellington Place to its current facilities in a 14 acre site next to Lagan Meadows.
The Belfast organisation is now a separate limited company charity which no longer has sporting teams of its own on the extensive playing fields but partners with Aquinas and others in making the facilities available. It is largely funded from the Wellington Place legacy and can, therefore, follow its own approaches to identified needs not influenced by funders’ requirements.
YMCA Belfast Limited has 3 strands – Childcare, Fitness and Youth; Childcare being provided through a new purpose built nursery on site together with After-school and Holiday Clubs and Fitness through the Gym Fitness Centre with personal training and external classes.
The recipient of the John Savage Award was the Youth Section run by Brian Moore ably supported by Peter McNiece and Lydia Brush. Its Programmes include The Connect Project; Duke of Edinburgh Award; NI National Citizenship Scheme; Youth in Government; Volunteer Training; M-Power; Peace lV Schools Project Partnership and, above all, provides Experiences. The Youth Team each enthusiastically described their work in East Belfast Schools funded by the proceeds from the former Montpottinger YMCA. This work demonstrates their needs based, hands on approach of individual involvement and communication - “conversations” - with each child. These are not lecture led but conversation driven and much appreciated by the schools who benefit.
The Rotarians present were amazed by the tremendous work being done and the results achieved as well as the fact that the team has used the John Savage Award incorporating it positively in its programmes.