By Renée M. Quinn | Community Relations Director
Why would 5,000 YMCA youth gather in Prague? These youth were eager to gain more knowledge about the tolerance work they’re already part of in their communities. Last week, 400 of these youth attended YMCA Europe Festival from the Puget Sound area.
This year’s festival theme – Love 2 Live – provided opportunities to celebrate life, culture, and diversity. As Love 2 Live says, “The Festival takes young people on a journey: exploring their dreams, aspirations and talents; developing their leadership skills; and challenging them to make sense of the world we live in locally, nationally, and globally.”
For one local youth, Liam McCormick, the opportunity to attend Europe Festival wasn’t a guarantee. However, his mom saw the importance of such a chance and the two of them diligently raised the $2,500 for Liam to go. “Foreign travel is not in our budget; vacation outside of Tacoma isn’t in our budget, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said McCormick’s mom. “As a single parent, I have had to make decisions to let others help raise my child. The Y has been one of those.”
McCormick is actively involved in the Y’s Youth and Government program and recently won the nomination for District Attorney General. As a junior at Wilson High School, McCormick said, “I was afraid of major officers in eighth grade, but now I feel in my element when I speak in front of others.” He was eager for Europe Festival to gain more tolerance for those he encounters, breakdown stereotypes, and further his leadership skills he’s gained through the program. While in Prague, he was selected as an interviewer and conducted two interviews with YMCA CEOs. This was the first time McCormick traveled outside the United States.