August 2015, Cape Town YMCA turns 150 Years Old

150 years, a Sesquicentennial Celebration of YOUTH Service in South Africa

2015 is a year to remember for the Cape Town YMCA family, as we celebrate the Sesquicentennial establishment of the YMCA in Cape Town, South Africa. Over the past 150 years, many volunteers, YMCA staff, sponsors and partners have made significant contributuions to changing the lives of young people within the Western Cape. We’d like to say THANK YOU to all.
This site will be regularly updated with the new events planned from June till December, as well as opportunities for the Cape Town community to celebrate with us, so please check back regularly for updates. We invite you, our supporters and friends, to join us in celebrating our birthday.

Chair’s 150th Message:  Chairman’s 150th Message. READ here

Events Calendar: click here for a list of events

How It All Began

  • The Cape Town YMCA was set up primarily as a Christian “Home away from Home” residence for young men coming to live in Cape Town. Our YMCA was based in a couple of places in the City over the years – Hout Street, 44 Long Street and Queen Victoria Street before finally relocating to Observatory. The move to Observatory was the result of a merger between the CT YMCA and Louis Botha House YMCA based in Observatory. It was at the new “home of the CT YMCA” that it opened its doors to allow female residents. Since the 1990’s, Observatory has been the home of the Cape Town YMCA.
  • Community and Youth Development Programmes: From its humble beginnings, the Cape Town YMCA has played an active role in Community projects in the City and its surrounds. Our volunteer-led youth empowerment programs focus particularly on youngsters from as early as 7 years, to teens and young adults; where trained volunteers deliver a service ranging from after-school homework, life-skills education, placement of drug abuse victims in safe houses, counselling young juvenile offenders and annual holiday camps.

Quick Facts

The YMCA movement history: In 1844 the first organization whose sole aim was to address the needs of young men was founded. The YMCA was set up by George Williams. From London, William’s goal was to create an organization that catered for the spiritual and emotional needs as well as the physical needs of the young men that he saw around him. The delivery of Williams’ work was mainly through missionaries working on the streets of London though it wasn’t long before the first hostel was founded and others later elsewhere around the world. (Source, Wikipedia)

Old Cape Town YMCA building – A heritage site: The Old YMCA Building, 44 Long Street, Cape Town was declared a heritage site and recognized by the South African Heritage Resources Agency (Source, Wikipedia)

Africa’s oldest YMCA: Cape Town YMCA is Africa’s oldest YMCA; established in Cape Town in 1865, with the first meeting being held at Green Market Square. Various other local YMCA associations were later formed before the establishment of the South African National Council of YMCA’s in the 1940’s.

Volunteerism: Since establishment in 1865, the Cape Town YMCA’s key pillar is its dedicated and trained volunteers who come from all walks of life; some being international students whilst others are local youth workers, united by the desire to effect positive change in young people’s lives.

Youth Development Programmes:

YZoneA Safe Space for Growing: Y–Zone is an afterschool program for 6-18year olds. Volunteers assist young people with homework every week of the school calendar. Y-Zone activities include mentoring, sports, games, and life skills education.

YArts – Using the arts to develop character and leadership skills: Y Arts is a creative platform for 7-18yr old youth to positively express themselves. The program runs every Thursday afternoon; activities include Hip-hop dance, Performing arts, Dialogue, Photography, Visual arts, and Creative production. The programme goal is to creatively empower youth for greater self-confidence and community leadership skills.

YJustice, Transforming Lives: Y Justice works with youth in conflict with the law due to their social circumstances. The Cape Town YMCA collaborates with the Department of Correctional Services, ensuring visible support to young offenders. The program aims to reduce high repeat-offences and equips prisoners with necessary tools for life. Lessons include living an honest life, Drug and Alcohol abuse, CV writing, Conflict resolution, Anger management and Family relationships.

YResidence, Observatory – A Home Away From Home: The Y Residence in Observatory is an accommodation and residential facility for people in Cape Town seeking accommodation. The residence is close to all major forms of public transportation. Facilities include self-catering and catered units, Dining area, Internet room, Free Wifi, Pool tables, Braai facilities, Laundry facility, a TV room and a gym facility.

Little Stream, Constantia – A tranquil Restaurant and Conferencing Facility: Little Stream is a restaurant, conference and wedding facility located at the foot of the Constantia hills. Generously bequeathed to the Cape Town YMCA by Muriel Jones in the 1970’s, Little Stream offers a prayer garden, picnic spots, and is also perfect for hosting small weddings, wedding breakfasts, bible studies, educational seminars and indoor/ outdoor workshops in 10 to 50 seater conference rooms. For more information and bookings, please contact: Conferences +27 (0) 794 3413, Tea Garden +27 (0) 794 9147l Email: littlestream@xsinet.co.za

Partners and Friends of Cape Town YMCA:

We say a special THANK YOU to all our past and present sponsors, donors and partners: