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Byrd's Eye View: Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

David Byrd
November 16, 2016
Byrd's Eye View

Dear Friends,

November 16 is International Day for Tolerance, and I want to share with you the ways our Y is committed to people of all ages and from every walk of life. Our overarching purpose is to enable everyone to work side-by-side to strengthen communities.  We work to ensure people—regardless of gender, income, faith, sexual orientation or cultural background –have the opportunity to live life to its fullest and improve the lives of those in our communities. Our Y is a place where all people are valued.  

That sounds simple enough, but the reality is that many things happening in the communities around our Ys make our commitment to pulling people together challenging.  It’s really about understanding how people’s backgrounds influence their priorities, communication and understanding of the world around them. It’s an ongoing conversation, and we work every day to make sure our Y is a place for that ongoing conversation. Our volunteers and staff are committed to having a diverse Y that is inclusive of all.  For our Y to serve increasingly diverse communities, we must engage staff, volunteers, members and program participants from all walks of life. 

Throughout our history, we have constantly worked to provide a safe place for conversations about diversity and inclusion to happen. Here are some examples of how our Y is showing its commitment to diversity and inclusion.  

Working with Others from Around the Globe

I joined six other leaders from our Y at the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovative Network event this September. More than 315 Y leaders and partners representing 62 YMCAs in Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and beyond gathered to share ideas on how to serve our diverse communities, engage others in discussions about diversity and explore ways to collaborate across the world.

Supporting the Conversation

The Linwood Family YMCA held two Community Debriefings to provide the community with a safe place to connect and discuss their feelings and fears surrounding current events and officer involved shootings. The discussions aimed to cultivate healing by bringing the community together in a peaceful environment.

Serving those with Special Needs

Fox 4 recently highlighted two stars in the Y Challenger program.  Abby Fleenor, a 12-year-old volunteer Challenger Buddy, is always there to help 15-year-old Dalton Kaiser, a high school sophomore with autism. Speaking of his buddies, Dalton said "they stay at my side. They help me. They work with me. And they teach me." Click here to view the interview.

Welcoming and celebrating diversity is foundational to developing and strengthening our communities. We are passionate about our cause and know that our ability to achieve it begins with partnering with all people and communities. Thank you for bringing your unique perspective to the Y and helping us create a welcoming environment for all.



David Byrd
President and CEO
YMCA of Greater Kansas City


The YMCA of Greater Kansas City strives to ensure access, inclusion and engagement for all to reach their personal potential in a welcoming and safe environment. We work on a case-by-case basis within our centers, sites and resources, to provide access to programs and services for all.