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Local YMCAs engage in a wide variety of charitable activities, including providing athletic facilities, holding classes for a wide variety of skills, promoting Christianity, and humanitarian work.
Philanthropists saw them as places for wholesome recreation that would preserve youth from the temptations of alcohol, gambling, and prostitution and that would promote good citizenship." The YMCA was founded by George Williams, a London draper, who was typical of the young men drawn to the cities by the Industrial Revolution.The YMCA was very influential during the 1870s and 1930s, during which times they most successfully promoted "evangelical Christianity in weekday and Sunday services, while promoting good sportsmanship in athletic contests in gyms (where basketball and volleyball were invented) and swimming pools." Later in this period, and continuing on through the 20th century, the YMCA had "become interdenominational and more concerned with promoting morality and good citizenship than a distinctive interpretation of Christianity." In 1878, World Alliance of YMCAs offices were established in Geneva, Switzerland.