Each year the charity runs the Downslink Challenge, a 7.5 mile sponsored walk along the Downs Link pathway from Horesham To Shoreham.
Last year, more than 100 people put on their walking shoes to raise money for YMCA Downslink, the South East division of the international charity which prevents youth homelessness and supports young people in crisis.
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Among those taking part was YMCA resident Josh Lancaster. At 19, he faced homelessness due to issues at home.
His confidence plummeted and he was struggling, his key worker said, but when he found a new home with the YMCA he began to rebuild his self esteem.
His key worker encouraged him to get involved with the Downsink Challenge and he took up the task.
He was one of the first to cross the finish line with a huge smile on his face.
The challenge raises money to help the charity continue with its life-changing service. In the Downslink group alone, it gives over 650 young people a home each night, and helps 10,000 people through its advice and counselling services.
Since taking part in last year’s event, Josh has moved into semi-independent living, is working full time, and has stepped up to become a youth ambassador for YMCA nationally.
He said he wants to “give back” and raise awareness of the charity’s impact so they can continue to do so for more people like him.
He said: “The YMCA has helped me so much, I just want other people to get the support I have had.
“I felt so proud of myself when I did the challenge, I never thought I could walk 17 miles, but I did it and felt so happy with myself. I’m now doing all sorts of things I never thought I would.
“Without the YMCA I wouldn’t be where I am today. The YMCA has changed my life.”
And next month, you can take part in the walk to raise money for the charity. On Saturday, July 15, the walk will set off from Horsham enroute to Shoreham.
The walk costs £20 and every participant will win a medal and T shirt at the finish line, surrounded by their friends and family.