City Year UK’s Opening Day

City Year UK kicked off its 10th Anniversary celebrations on Friday the 13th of September with Opening Day. We brought together all our volunteer mentors from London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, as well as alumni and staff.

We were also joined by several colleagues from City Year Inc in the US, including Michael Brown, City Year co-founder, to celebrate a decade of City Year UK. 

The youth social action charity held two panel discussions, the first consisting of our US visitors who discussed transforming City Year’s mission from a global idea to local action. Our second panel discussion ‘Insights from Alumni’ allowed us to hear from several City Year UK alumni from the last 10 years about their City Year experience and how it shaped their lives afterwards.

City Year UK were also proud to host and hear remarks from leading City Year Inc leaders; Michael Brown, the co-founder of City Year; Jim Balfanz, President of City Year Inc; and AnnMaura Connolly, Chief Strategy Officer. 

Opening Day then headed outside to The Scoop, by the iconic London City Hall for the Unity Rally and Pledge Ceremony. This year of volunteer mentors did an outstanding job performing ‘PT’, or Physical Training, where they demonstrated signature City Year moves like Chainbreakers and Power Stretches to showcase City Year UK’s values of spirit, discipline, purpose and pride. The volunteers were then led by City Year co-founder Michael Brown to pledge to serve as a City Year member to the very best of their ability, expressing the commitment made when they assume the responsibilities and privileges of wearing the Red Jacket.

Volunteer mentor Lydia from Greater Manchester told us that “A personal highlight was hearing all about how Michael Brown took City Year from just an idea, between him and a friend, and turned it into the incredible organisation it is today. His infinite faith in City Year and constant belief in what City Year could achieve, by helping our society close the educational inequality gap, helped him persevere through all the challenges he faced. It was truly awe-inspiring to listen to and certainly made me feel very proud to be a part of City Year and very grateful to be given the opportunity to have a positive impact on our society.” 

“Later in the afternoon came the part I was dreading, although arguably one of the more vital parts of the day… PT! For those who don’t know, PT involves a range of movements and chants that are performed in unison to get us all “FIRED UP” for the day. However, it wasn’t until I was stood in the Scoop with the whole City Year UK cohort, performing Chain Breakers at the top of my lungs, did I truly understand the reason for doing PT. Performing PT as a massive group made me realise that we are all part of one big team fighting for the same outcome: to help provide children with the best opportunities to be the best they can be.”

It was a truly inspiring day for all attending, and City Year UK looks forward to continue celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

Read Lydia’s full blog about her Opening Day experience here.

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