|Type||Belgian non-profit youth organization|
|Purpose||Catholic youth organization|
|Jos Cleymans |
Chiro Flanders (Dutch: Chirojeugd Vlaanderen) or simply Chiro, is a Belgian youth organisation, founded on Christian values, active in Flanders, Brussels and Eupen-Malmedy. With more than 100,000 members Chiro is the biggest youth organization in Belgium. While mainly focusing on having fun, it also aims at developing youngsters' responsibility and skills. Chiro is a member of the umbrella of Catholic youth organizations Fimcap.
The name Chiro is a combination of the Greek letters chi (χ) and rho (ρ), which are the first letters of Christos, the Greek form of Christ (see Chi Rho). It was introduced by Jos Cleymans in an issue of Het Katholiek Patronaat, describing the youth of Chiro (Chirojeugd).
The Chiro movement emerged from meetings for children after the mass on Sunday called "patronates" teaching Catholic values. In 1934 the Jos Cleymans, a priest and from 1932 secretary of the Flemish Youth Union for Catholic Action (JVKA), used for the first time the term "Chiro" to name the youth movement. The approach of the movement became less formal and changed to an emphasis on playing and activities. He tried to transform the patronates, now called Chiro, into a modern youth movement. At the same expressive practices like banners, songs and marches were introduced to make a common identity of the groups of the movement visible. Cleymans was inspired by the German Catholic youth movements "Quickborn" and "Neudeutschland" as well as by the Scouting movement. During World War II Chiro formulated a concept for its youth work encompassing three pillars:
In the beginning Chiro was an organization only for boys. Later also girls groups of Chiro were founded and also mixed groups emerged. Today there are 282 local groups for girls only, 237 for boys only and 397 mixed groups.
The members are divided into several sections according to their age. This division is not strict and not always applied in every individual group.
For a more elaborated list, please refer to the Chiro website.
Belgian Missionaries brought the ideas of Chiro into third-world countries. Today there are Chiro organizations in the Philippines (since 1952), Burundi, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, D. R. Congo (as "Kiro") and Haiti (as "Mouvement Kiro D'Haiti", since 1960).