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Jessica Hanley’s local to global journey with the Y

November 5, 2020 Youth Empowerment

“I really had no idea when I started at The Y in June 2016, that I would have global opportunities through work to expand my knowledge, career and connections that I have had the pleasure to experience”.

Jessica Hanley works as an Educator at The Y Hammondville OSHC, in New South Wales. As an essential frontline worker this year, she has been busy adapting to the COVID-normal way of working with children, ensuring they feel safe and supported during this time. We thank, recognise and celebrate Jessica for her work with children during this challenging time, and her contribution in that space would be enough, but Jessica has been busy doing a lot more this year.

Jessica has a long history of global connection through The Y. In 2018, she spent six weeks in Japan with the Osaka YMCA, completing a global internship program assisting in the facilitation of the 4th Global Youth Conference (GYC). In 2019, Jessica was appointed as a Global Change Agent. As part of the program, she has travelled both interstate and overseas to participate in Change Agent meetings and projects, CEO Forums, the National Youth Retreat and AGM, as well as the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) Regional Training, Global Gathering and 175th birthday celebration (which was held in London, England).

This year (2020), despite COVID-19, Jessica’s strong global connection has continued. She has been involved in a number of virtual summits, as a participant, scribe, facilitator and presenter, which has meant that she has really sacrificed by being up at all hours of the night to participate in these meetings.

The World YMCA held a series of six “Resilient YMCAs: Leaders Talks” sessions throughout April and May; with over 1,000 participants coming together from all over the world, sharing how COVID-19 has affected their communities, challenges they face, and how we can work together to adapt and remain relevant to our communities’ needs as we have done for the past 176 years.

Jessica also volunteered as part of the World Challenge Taskforce, with a focus on connecting and reconnecting digitally to celebrate YMCA’s 176th anniversary on the 6th June. Various activities and competitions were organised to cater for the diverse time zones. In July and August, the World YMCA Padare Series held Global Virtual Roundtables, collaborating with leaders from all over the world on three key themes: ‘Young People’, ‘Financial Recovery’ and an ‘Adaptive Y’. Jessica was an active member of Padare Group 7 – ‘Palo Borracho Tree’ and scribe for her chosen topic of an ‘Adaptive Y’, collaborating with group members to understand the trends, risks, opportunities, and principles to guide future action. Following this, two sensemaking sessions were held in September. As a result, the YMCA Adaptation Handbook will cover principles that will guide The Y through COVID-19; and work toward the YMCA North Star global strategy.

The APAY Committee on Youth Participation and Leadership Development (YPLD) organised a series of online talks titled “No Youth Should Be Left Behind” in response to growing concerns on the impact of COVID-19 on youth. Jessica presented ‘Australian Case Study: Access to Education during Coronavirus (COVID-19)’ in September, after seeing the struggles first hand in her centre with the children, as well as interviewing primary school parents, high school students and university academics. She also connected with Japanese Global Department contacts from her internship time, with their “Where are they now?” interview series with Global Alumni.

Jessica has been involved in multiple regional and global discussions since the pandemic upended our lives – with APAY, World YMCA and more engagements in the calendar to come.

We want to thank Jessica for her wonderful work with the Y across her career and thank her for her continued contribution to the global movement.

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