Christmas News Sheet

Christmas News Sheet

December is a time for looking back at events which have happened during the year and looking forward with anticipation to the events which the new year might bring.

2019 has been a busy year for Larne YMCA, with lots of opportunities for new projects and development of existing work.

This week has been a Bouncing Bonanza, with our sports hall being filled with Bouncy Castles for the past week to help us celebrate Christmas. All programmes have availed of these with parties being had almost every day, with the last one being today in after schools. Aside from all the partying, we have also been busy this week making lots of Santa Themed arts/crafts/cooking, pool competitions and making good use of our new board games. 

For this News Sheet, I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect on the year gone by… it has been a busy year for us all, and I imagine 2020 will be no different, however, here has been a few of my key highlights of the year:

  • Throughout 2019 we have been able to develop our relationships with external organisations further, some of which include Local Primary Schools, PeacePlayers NI, Larne Football Club, Copius Consulting and many more! It has been amazing to see these relationships develop, not only for us but also for the young people we work with – as Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This has lead to the development of new programmes which is vital for giving our young people more experiences, skills and opportunities. 
  • This Year, YMCA celebrated its 175th anniversary of the founding of the first YMCA in London, England in 1844 by young men who came together to address the social challenges that impacted their communities. Working together to strengthen communities has been the hallmark of the YMCA ever since. As with any birthday, we celebrated in style with a week-long celebration. We also encouraged young people and staff to volunteer 175 minutes of their time to take part in or run activities. One of our young people even dedicated a week to doing fundraising for Macmillan Nurses and raised a tremendous amount.
  • Residentials!! Our year cannot be complete without taking part in a few residentials throughout it. This year we had quite a few ranging from our Youth Club Good Relations Residentials to our Autism Support Programme Residential. We have visited some new centres this year and returned to some old favourites – developing relationships further once again. Not only are residentials fun, but they are also a key way of getting to know our young people whilst engaging in beneficial outdoor learning. We are all looking forward to some more of these in 2020. 
As with all reflections, it is important to remember the hardships we have faced throughout the year – some of which included the loss of some key people from our YMCA Family – board members, young people and supporters from further afield. They will always be in our thoughts and memories, but it is important to remember the good times shared with them, and how much they added to our organisation and personal lives. Throughout next year we will be remembering those we have lost by acts of remembrance.

Looking to the future, we are preparing for the New Year… and the start of a new decade! We have a few projects currently in development which we hope will be off the ground soon into 2020 if funding allows. We are always looking at ways of growing our organisation, and the coming years will be no exception.

After a busy 12 months, I would just like to thank all the Staff, Volunteers, Junior Leaders, Helpers for their never-ending hard work as well as our Board of Management for providing a key oversight into all our activities. I’d also like to extend a thank you to all parents/guardians and young people who use our services each week and support the work that we do as well as funders and external agencies. Without you, we would not be able to offer services to the Larne Community

Finally, can I take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Darren McDonagh, Larne YMCA

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