Introducing YMCA Virtual Exchange Program
We’re very excited to announce a virtual exchange program this year. It will operate alongside our in-person program, offering youth an additional way to connect with each other and learn about their country. We are thrilled to offer this new alternative option for youth in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is a virtual exchange?
A virtual exchange includes many elements of our in-person exchange, providing participants an opportunity to learn more about Canada, connect with new people and develop leadership skills. Instead of travelling between communities, youth will develop and complete activities virtually, sharing their communities with each other, and building relationships via technology. Both exchange options have the same program goals. Benefits of a virtual exchange include:
- The ability to build relationships with people from different parts of the country and support youth in deepening their connection to Canada without leaving their home community.
- A structure that allows for more youth to participate without constraints like travel, time away from home or other accessibility barriers.
- A flexible exchange timeline, as opposed to the natural time limits involved in a physical exchange.
- The chance to explore more of Canada, both locally and further away. Youth may complete a virtual tour of the National Art Gallery in Ottawa for one activity, a scavenger hunt planned by your twin for the next one, and a virtual service project in your community the following week.
How does it work?
More information about YEC’s application and selection process can be found here. Once you have applied, we will connect you to a Regional Coordinator who will help provide training and support for you and your group’s participation. We have been exploring planning best practices for operating virtual exchanges and are happy to share our ideas with you.
Our team will connect you with a partner group in another community, and you’ll work together to develop a virtual program plan. Regional Coordinators will provide you with the guidance from application to exchange completion. In addition, groups will come up with a host and communication plan to establish how best to connect and run activities together. Activity scheduling is determined by the needs of youth from both groups, and can be spread over a longer time period as required.
As with our in-person exchanges, YEC has project cost funding to support groups with barriers to participation. These could include funding the infrastructure to support a virtual exchange such as internet, cellular data, or a webcam. We are committed to making both exchange options as accessible as possible for all Canadian youth.
For further questions please reach out to our team here.