Liberia: YMCA Launches Children’s Vacation Sports Program

YMCA Staff and participants of the Vacation School Children’s Sports Program at the YMCA basketball gymnasium on Broad Street, Central Monrovia.

— Also celebrates 142 years of service to the youth of Liberia

The Liberia Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Central Monrovia has launched its 2023 Children's Vacation Sports Program.

The launch was held on August 10, at the YMCA Headquarters on Broad Street, Monrovia. Held under the theme “Ensuring Peace through Sports,” the program aims to educate the young participants on how to maintain peace during the upcoming October 10 Elections.

Meanwhile, the program was also a celebration ceremony marking the 142nd anniversary of the YMCA’s existence in Liberia.

The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) was founded in London, England, by George Wilhains on June 6, 1844, in response to unhealthy social conditions arising in the big cities at the end of the Industrial Revolution that took place in (1750- 1850).

The YMCA of Liberia was founded on August 10, 1881 by Bishop Samuel D. Ferguson, an Episcopal Bishop sent to Liberia on an assignment from Harper, Maryland County. The Liberia ‘Y’ later came to Monrovia in 1926 through the work of James Mccritty.

And the YMCA of Liberia seeks to unite and empower young people through self-development and service to their community as an extension of the Kingdom of God.

The YMCA of Liberia is known for its children's vacation sports program. And the program takes place every year from June to August.

Ama Harris, Agency Supervisor, Marketing, and Customer Relations HR at Brussels Airlines, who delivered the keynote address and formal launch of the program, told the children that the way they can maintain peace in Liberia during the Elections is by being actively involved in sports. 

According to her, another way the children can maintain peace in Liberia during the election is by identifying who they consider to be friends in their lives because friends can influence them.

“So I am appealing to you today, young people under my voice,” she said, “to please be careful because there are so many things out there that could affect your future.”

She added that it determines who are the children’s guides, who are their friends, who they spend time with, and what they spend time doing, because what they decide to spend their time and energy on is what will determine their future.

Harris expressed appreciation to APM Terminals for sponsoring the program, without whose sponsorship the program would not be possible.

She also appreciated the teachers, advisers, and coordinators of the program for the good job they did. 

She further said, for Liberians to have a sustainable future in Liberia, there is a need to invest in the youth’s future.

“So, all we are asking of you today is to tell the YMCA thank you for such a program and we are asking you to invest in your future by spending time doing things that will help you by studying through sports, through learning and being respectful,” she said.

According to her, the children are not only going to learn sports but they are also learning discipline, including keeping quiet when they are asked to keep quiet because those are the things that will help them in the future. 

In addition, she expressed gratitude to the parents for taking time off in the middle of their work week to be a part of the program to show the support and interest they have in their children.

T. Martin Allen, YMCA Montserrado County Coordinator, disclosed that every year they gather young children across Montserrado County for two months to engage them in the fundamentals of basketball.

“Not only basketball, but also providing computer literacy programs,” he said, adding that this year, they have interspersed the sports program with Arts and Crafts, Protocol and Etiquette.

In addition, he told the sponsors, partners and the parents that it was not a mistake to allow their children to join the YMCA Children Vacation Sports Program.

“For the two months that they are going to be here, you will see exactly what they are doing,” he said. 

Jean D. Hannah Thompson, HR Director at APM Terminals Liberia, in her remarks at the program expressed appreciation for what the YMCA are doing for the children.

“APM Terminals is so proud to be the Liberia YMCA Children Vacation Sports Program sponsor and hope that YMCA will continue doing what they are doing for the children,” she said. “We can see in the faces of the children that they are so excited and they love what you are doing for them.” 

“And to the parents we want to say thank you. We know what it is to get your kids ready for school in the morning and when it’s vacation time, you say ‘I’m going to rest’, but you are not resting. You are ensuring that your children come to YMCA to keep them busy to [avoid] the things that they should not get involved in during vacation period,” she said.

She also expressed appreciation to those who are  taking good care of the children and urged them to continue the good work. 

Meanwhile, Thompson disclosed that APM Terminals tries to support the most needy and they know that the YMCA program is very important to Liberia. “That’s why APM Terminals continues to invest in this program. We want to say continue doing what you are doing; we appreciate what you are doing for our kids. We know that there are so many things out there they are getting out of because they are coming to YMCA,” she said

She added that as Liberia YMCA continues with the program, APM Terminals will also continue to support them.