Healthy Communities

Canadian Achievers shine at North Carolina Summit

26 October 2023 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

It was the trip of a lifetime! In late July 2023, three youth participants from YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Black Achievers Mentorship Program – Nathanella, Nathan, and Jordan – travelled to the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly retreat centre in North Carolina, USA, where they represented our YMCA for a week at the international Y Achievers Summit.

It was the second year that youth in our program had the chance to participate in this important conference, meeting with young people from other YMCA Black Achievers programs across the United States.

A shining opportunity for personal and professional growth

The 2023 summit offered our three youth delegates – among our YMCA’s youngest Black Achievers participants and in their early years of high school – an incredible professional and personal development opportunity. Not only did they travel to another country and have the chance to network with other Black high school students and Black Achievers staff leaders, they also explored a new cultural setting and participated in workshops and activities that supported their academic, professional, and social well-being.

Workshop topics included instruction and in-depth, interactive discussions about student life in college, advocacy and justice, presentation and public speaking skills, personal finance, social media, civic engagement, community development, and exploring career and life dreams.

Activities and networking for youth and staff alike

Two program participants are standing with two staff members. Trees line the background

Meanwhile, creative and fun activities supported our young participants’ personal growth, leadership, and teamwork skills. Climbing two of the Blue Ridge Assembly’s high ropes challenge courses, the “Alpine Tower” and the “Odyssey,” were among their favourite activities. Nathanella, Nathan, and Jordan also loved Drop the Mic and Dance Party Night, describing it as “lit” (adult translation: amazing). Swimming, team sports, and nutritious meals also kept our youth healthy and engaged throughout their stay.

Our attending Black Achievers program staff, Samantha Adebiyi and Nikashia Ramdhani, found the Summit a valuable learning experience, offering opportunities to exchange teaching and personal development strategies with many other Black Achievers staff leaders.

Summit created by binational Black Achievers leaders

The Y Achievers Summit first launched in 2022, a result of Black Achievers staff leaders in both the United States (where the program has many local chapters) and at our GTA program (the only YMCA Black Achievers program in Canada to date) coming together to create this transformative annual conference for Black Achievers youth. It takes place each year at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly’s 1,200-acre campus overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.


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