While many may simply view the Y as a local nonprofit, we’re actually part of a global network – 119 nations strong − that are working to unite and strengthen communities around the world. In fact, based on our efforts to “build bridges” within the Central Florida community, our Y was recently recognized as a Global Center of Excellence by the YMCA of the USA.   Intended, in part, to showcase and share best practices, the recognition places our organization among an elite group of Ys that are leading the way in promoting inclusion, diversity and cultural understanding among members, staff and communities.   “In today’s diverse and rapidly changing global world, we know we grow stronger when we reach out, embrace all cultures and learn from one another,” said Jim Ferber, YMCA of Central Florida President and CEO.  “From bringing kids of all backgrounds together on the playing field, to supporting fragile neighborhoods and uniting our interfaith communities in prayer, the Y is always seeking new opportunities to build relationships and understanding.”   In addition to impactful partnerships with Disney, Lockheed Martin, Darden, Microsoft and other globally focused organizations, the Y is deeply committed to serving unique needs across Central Florida, one of the most culturally diverse regions in the nation.   At our Osceola Y Family Center alone, more than 60 different languages are spoken, requiring our staff to be culturally aware and responsive. And through our focus on Youth Development, we work daily to instill the values, civility and respect that our young people need to accept one another and thrive in a culturally diverse world.    To that end, in August we are also sending a group of community leaders and promising young people to the YMCA’s Global Teen Leadership Conference in Prague. During the weeklong conference, the teens will be joining with 10,000 peers from around the world to discover new ways they can better serve their local, national and global communities.   So stay tuned for more. We’re bringing on a stronger, more interconnected world – and it all starts right here at the Y.