This past weekend, the World Youth Alliance celebrated 15 years of working to promote human dignity with a weekend packed full of events.
15 years ago, WYA was founded on March 25, 1999. What started with a single idea has grown today to include 6 regional offices, 165 countries, over 400 alumni, 26 full time staff members, and 2 affiliated programs to implement the founding vision.
The WYA Ball began the celebratory weekend with live music from the WYA Chamber Orchestra, dancing, masks, tuxedos, ball gowns, and a large birthday cake. Attendees waltzed to the sounds of Strauss and Tchaikovsky throughout the evening. The Kathryn Hoomkwap Award for Extraordinary Service in Defense of the Dignity of the Person was unveiled for the first time and presented by Kekuut Hoomkwap, daughter of Kathryn, to the first awardee, WYA former staff member and Congresswoman Aliah Dimaporo Cimafranca. WYA Founder Anna Halpine raised a toast and gave a speech on Aliah’s unwavering commitment to dignity through her work both with WYA and in politics.
On Saturday, WYA Research and Policy Expert, Meghan Grizzle Fisher, presented an update of WYA’s latest developments during the Advocacy Academy. These new developments expand the organization’s vision of authentic recognition of human dignity. The briefing included WYA’s work in maternal health, sustainable development, population and development, and international affairs. The briefing also included introductions to the Fertility Education and Medical Management (FEMM), a knowledge-based reproductive health program for women and the Human Dignity Curriculum (HDC), intended for grades K-12 and currently being evaluated for grades 4-6, based on the belief that every human person possesses intrinsic dignity.
On Sunday, WYA held a brunch with its members, staff, interns, and friends. Attendees got a chance to meet and mingle with members from all around the world, and to exchange stories about their unique and personal encounters with WYA. Alumni from several WYA generations returned, some with their children, and exchanged stories from the past and hopes for the future.
WYA is particularly grateful for those who supported our work from the beginning, and cannot be with us in person to celebrate this year. They contributed greatly to WYA and remain ever in our hearts. In particular, we remember the late Bl. Pope John Paul II, Mrs. Mary Rutter Smith, Mrs. Kathryn Hoomkwap, Dr. Karl Ballestrem, Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, and Mr. Peter Flanigan.
WYA exists, ultimately, to serve the young people who continue to give us their time, talent, and creativity. To each one of you, past and present: thank you. What an honor it is to work with and for you each day.
Photos from the photo booth can be viewed at www.wya.net/WYA15