Velocity Adventure Program

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Academic issues; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; Recreational/sport-based setting

Location: Newfoundland and Labrador

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Velocity Adventure program, otherwise known as Velocity, is an adventure-based program for youth aimed at reducing antisocial behaviour, increasing attachment to school, and reducing substance abuse and contact with the criminal justice system. Velocity is designed to build life skills, foster personal development, encourage healthy choices, and build positive interpersonal and community relationships.

The program is centered on community mobilization; conflict resolution; counselling and social work; leadership and youth development; peer counselling and mediation; skills training; social emotional learning; substance prevention/treatment; and truancy prevention.


The main goals of Velocity are to:

  • Help youth reduce their substance use;
  • Help youth reduce their antisocial behaviours;
  • Help youth reduce contact with criminal justice system
  • Increase youths’ school attachment;
  • Encourage youth to learn and practice prosocial skills; and
  • Help youth increase their connections to the community.


The appropriate clientele for Velocity is males between the ages of 13-18 and females between the ages of 13-17. The program targets, but is not limited to, youth who are deemed to be at risk of substance use/abuse, lack of connection to school, early aggressive and antisocial behaviour, and/or contact with the criminal justice system. Velocity also targets parents and the broader community in order to provide them with information, referrals to services, and other supports to better assist youth.

Participants are referred to Velocity by community agencies, partners, and other individuals who are concerned about at-risk youth.

Core Components

Velocity is a 12-month program which consists of three main components:

  • Group building: Youth participate in a number of day outings such as kayaking, trapezing, and rock climbing in order to get to know the program. The group sessions also focus on strengthening life skills, respect, and building a team environment;
  • Adventure camps: During the 7-day camp, youth participate in adventure-based activities designed to challenge them physically, emotionally, and mentally. The camps focus on four main areas of programming: life skills and personal development; experiential learning through outdoor adventure; therapeutic and holistic components; and health and wellness; and
  • Engage-conflict-shift: This component includes presentations and drop-in sessions, as well as adventure-based day outings. This eight-month phase involves staff and youth supporting each other to apply new found skills and resources in everyday life. 

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must mobilize community members, parents, and other community-based organizations in order to enhance the recruitment of at-risk youth and acquire the resources needed to administer the program, including various adventure-based outings.
  • Partnerships: The success of Velocity depends on its many partnerships with health services, addiction services, and various community-based organizations.
  • Training and technical assistance: Velocity staff receive training each year on a variety of topics, including training on issues related to mental health, self-harm, manipulation, critical incidents and debriefing, suicide intervention, dealing with anxiety and trauma, narrative therapy, and training related to substance abuse and dealing with drugs and alcohol.
  • Risk assessment tools: Three risk assessment tools are used to assess the targeted risk factors that are addressed by the program: the Violent Intentions Assessment; the Hostility Assessment; and the General Assessment.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy provided funding to implement the Velocity program in St. John’s, Newfoundland between 2009 and 2012. The Velocity was implemented by the Community Youth Network (CYN).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

As part of Public Safety Canada’s funding, an outcome evaluation studyFootnote1 of the Velocity program was conducted in 2010-2013 by Ference Weicker & Company. A mixed methods approach integrating both qualitative and quantitative data was used to evaluate Velocity. The methodology included pre-, post-, and second post-assessment tests of participants on three standardized tools measuring youth psychosocial, cognitive, and behavioural issues. The participants of the program were compared to a control group.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • Pre- and post-test follow-up data at 12 months indicate that the participants’ attitude toward education significantly (p < 0.05) improved after participating in Velocity as they had indicated having relatively more interest in academic goals after participating in the program; and
  • The pre- and post-test within-group data showed that youth reported that they were able to handle their substance use problems and were motivated to reduce their drug and alcohol use. Results of the within-groups pre- and post-tests indicate a statistically significant (p < 0.05) improvement in youth perception of their ability to handle substance use problems and motivation to reduce use. Aggressive and antisocial behaviours, however, did not appear to change as a result of participating in Velocity.

For more information, refer to the National Crime Prevention Centre’s (2015; 2012) publication.

Cost Information

Between 2010 and 2012, the total cost of conducting Velocity was approximately $385,968 (CAD) or $7,568 (CAD) per participant (Ference Weicker & Company, 2013).


Ference Weicker & Company. (2013). Evaluation of the Velocity Adventure Program St. John’s, Newfoundland: Final Report. Final Evaluation Report. Submitted to the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety Canada (Unpublished report).

National Crime Prevention Centre. (2015). Evaluation Summary of the Velocity Adventure Program. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:

National Crime Prevention Centre. (2012). Velocity Adventure Program. Crime Prevention in Action. Ottawa, ON: Public Safety Canada. Available from:

For more information on this program, contact:

Community Youth Network, St. John’s
108 LeMarchant Road
PO Box 26067
St. John’s, Newfoundland A1E 0A5
Telephone: (709) 754-0536

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-14
Record Updated On - 2018-04-23
  1. 1

    A process evaluation study of the program was also conducted through Public Safety Canada’s funding. For more information, communicate with the Research Division, Public Safety Canada.

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