Best-known to the public after featuring in the Village People song of the same name, the YMCA is a worldwide organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Having been founded back in 1844, the idea behind it was to promote great Christian principles. Now, we know the name, and we are aware that the YMCA acts as a national and charitable resource in North America and the United Kingdom.
However, there are a lot of things you probably don’t know about the organization. The Young Men’s Christian Association has had an eventful 175 years in existence, and we’re going to take a look at some of the best things you never knew about this company. Here are some fascinating things you never knew about the YMCA.
It exists in more than 120 countries
Having started out from fairly modest roots, the YMCA eventually developed and evolved into a global organization. The company itself estimates that there are currently around 2,500 branches just in the United States alone. Among the countries that have YMCA, affiliations include Canada, Panama, Hong Kong, and many countries in Africa. This shows the scope and range of the organization, and how much it has grown in stature over the years.
It was a response to the Industrial Revolution
You might not be aware, but the YMCA was created as a response to the Industrial Revolution. Sir George Williams, founder of the YMCA, was appalled by the squalid living conditions in England during the mid-1800s and used religion as a tool to help. He began to hold Bible meetings, which eventually expanded and grew to become the Young Men’s Christian Association. He could not have imagined how impactful this movement would eventually have become.
A YMCA employee invented basketball
One of the biggest claims to fame of the YMCA is that it is also responsible for the invention of basketball! As one of the most popular and successful sports in the world, basketball is a multi-billion dollar industry these days. But, what you may not know is that James Naismith, who was working at the YMCA’s International Training College, created a new game in 1891, as a way of keeping his students fit during the harsh winter! This game wound up becoming the game of basketball!
It helped found the Red Cross
The influence of the YMCA should not be underestimated, and it’s responsible for many of the things we know and love today, including basketball and volleyball. But, aside from sports, a guy named Henry Dunant helped to bring the YMCA to Africa and Europe. In 1852 he founded the Geneva chapter of the Y, and, 11 years later he founded the Red Cross, and scooped the first ever Nobel Peace Prize as a result.
Now, these are just a few of the key things you didn’t know about the YMCA. This is an organization with such great history and historical importance. The Y influenced much more than we ever knew, and that’s what makes it one of the world’s most important organizations.