YMCA organizes Interfaith Multicultural Youth Coalition

Heart of the Valley YMCA has founded the Interfaith Multicultural Youth Coalition for teenagers to grow as productive global citizens. (CONTRIBUTED)
Heart of the Valley YMCA has founded the Interfaith Multicultural Youth Coalition for teenagers to grow as productive global citizens. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – High school students can explore other cultures while sharing their own by joining the Interfaith Multicultural Youth Coalition, a new program of Heart of the Valley YMCA.

The coalition will meet at Hogan Family YMCA, 130 Park Square Lane in Madison and Southeast Family YMCA, 1000 Weatherly Road SW in Huntsville. Teenagers do not need YMCA membership to participate.

“Providing programs that help teens develop the skills necessary to become productive global citizens is a priority for the YMCA,” Heart of the Valley YMCA President Jerry Courtney said. “The Interfaith Multicultural Youth Coalition is part of the YMCA’s new initiative for youth development.”

These teenagers will develop a welcoming, respectful community of high school students within a safe venue for cultural understanding through dialogue, the arts and service projects.

With instantaneous Internet communication and global travel, “the world has become a much smaller place … with nations’ economies tied together,” Courtney said. “Our own community is a global center for economic development and commerce. What better place to start than with our youth to develop a community built around mutual respect, understanding and celebration of each other’s faiths and cultures?”

Teenagers in the coalition will determine its priorities and activities. The leaders will use “cultural immersion and interfaith curriculum to help facilitate the dialogue,” Courtney said.

For example, these youth can visit the Cheyenne River Reservation in Dupree, S.D. Heart of the Valley YMCA will partner with Sioux YMCA, the first Native American YMCA, to provide the experience.

In pursuing the arts, the teenagers can select an art form — dance, music or visual arts — to express their definition of interfaith and multicultural dialogue. They also will choose service projects. The can volunteer at the YMCA, soup kitchens, food pantries and community festivals.

Adult volunteers and YMCA staff will lead the group.

The coalition’s guiding principles will be the worth of all people, mutual respect, justice, equality and compassion.

Heart of the Valley YMCA serves Madison, Morgan, Limestone, Jackson and Marshall counties. For more information, email to IMYC@ymcahuntsville.org.

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