24 May 2023

Elysse drives positivity as a Global Change Agent

Fleurieu Aquatic Centre (FAC) Frontline and Programs Director, Elysse McCabe, will spend the next 18 months expanding her knowledge and developing ideas to drive change in communities across the world, after being nominated as one of six YMCA Australia (the Y) Change Agents for 2023-24.

The Y’s Change Agent program is a global leadership development program aimed at empowering young leaders as change makers in their own communities. Change Agents are young volunteers or staff members from Ys across the world who meet and share their experiences and ideas with a view to facilitating positive worldwide community change. They participate in innovative experiences including online and face-to-face trainings, mentoring and local project development.

Since 2014, 750 Change Agents have graduated and are leading change in 67 countries around the world.

Elysse, 27, is a Fleurieu local and has been working with the Y at Strathalbyn and FAC for 10 years. FAC manager James Lomax and Y CEO David Paterson identified her as a potential candidate for the national change program which inspired her to submit an online application.

Nearly 30 young people from across all states and territories expressed interest in the program with Elysse being one of 11 shortlisted for interview.

I was really lucky to be encouraged by James and David to apply and their support drove me to undertake the process,” she said.

My focus was on diversity which suited well given I am from a regional Y and, personally, my main area of interest was around ‘meaningful work’ which is one of the four pillars of the organisation’s Vision 2030.”

I was interviewed in a Zoom meeting with YMCA National and then given the good news that I had been successful a couple of weeks later.”

The program typically runs for 18 to 24 months and has already started. Elysse has engaged with the worldwide Change Agent cohort online and is excited by what the initiative may achieve.

I’ve had two online Zoom conferences with between 70 and 120 participants from Y’s around the world. In my case they are usually late at night, but that’s fine because it’s so cool to have a network of young people to bounce ideas and experiences off. It really puts things into perspective,” she said.

A lot of the work will take place online, however Elysse is planning a trip to the National office in Victoria to start the program planning and implementation over the next 12 months. The Change Agent program culminates with a global get-together in the middle of 2024 at a YMCA in a country yet to be decided.

A strong, collective youth voice and sustainability of the program into the future are among my key goals. It’s a unique program and provides an opportunity to drive change from a youth perspective which I believe is important,” added Elysse.

The Change Agent program has been run by World YMCA since 2013. It took a short break in 2022 as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, but has now returned and is aiming to help young people demonstrate their capacity to lead change, implement local solutions to tackle problems their communities are facing and deliver impact in line with the Y’s Vision 2030.

For more information on the Y’s youth programs visit www.sa.ymca.org.au/what-we-do/youth-empowerment.