Urban Games Project

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: Social development

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting; Social services setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Urban Games Project reflected a collective commitment to address vulnerable youths’ disengagement from themselves, others, social systems, and the community. High-risk youth become disengaged in order to survive their life conditions—conditions that are painful and involve rejection by parents, schools, and community. Youth deal with these conditions by numbing the pain with substance abuse, then ultimately  become involved in illegal and self-destructive activities to meet basic needs, all the while seeing themselves through the eyes of society as “bad people requiring social services.”

As recipients of social services, youth saw themselves as needy clients, not as persons with capacities and having something valuable to offer others. Perceiving youth who are engaging in high-risk behaviours as having something to offer is not easy for anyone, especially the youth. Consequently, vulnerable youth are not likely to connect with others in ways that demonstrate their capacities, talents, or abilities.

This project, framed as “shifting from closed to open eyes,” was about shifting perspectives to something different. Stereotypes imposed and accepted, needed to be challenged. Through the “lived experience of transformation,” a new sense of ‘self’ is discovered, and once discovered, may be shared with society, providing evidence that contradicts the negative stereotypes and opens up a world of possibilities for both the youth themselves and the communities with which they engage. The Urban Games resulted in the engagement of 1,000 people in Edmonton over the two-day Festival weekend.


The main goals of the Edmonton Urban Games project are:

  • Change perceptions/interactions regarding how youth treat each other;
  • Increase pride and sense of accomplishment;
  • Positive growth/skill development; and
  • Collective involvement.


The appropriate clientele for the Edmonton Urban Games project are at-risk youth involved in high-risk lifestyles and the judicial system.

Core Components

Nine Youth Business Development Team (YBDT) members were hired by the iHuman Youth Society to plan and implement the two-day Edmonton Urban Games Festival.

Core components of the project include:

  • Youth agency/empowerment: The Edmonton Urban Games was a two-year youth-driven initiative;
  • Challenging/changing negative perceptions;
  • Relationship building; and
  • Risk reduction.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The project should be youth driven and bring learnings and growth to the youth, mentors, and community.
  • Partnerships: Partnership between iHuman Youth Society and Youth Business Development Team.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • 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

The Edmonton Urban Games project was implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) from 2010 to 2012. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Edmonton Urban Games project. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio is 1.27:1. For every dollar invested in the project, $1.27 social value was created. The Urban Games initiative demonstrates that long-term investment in high-risk youth creates social value and builds new pathways for understanding in both the youth and the community; and
  • Social value was created through an increase in youth income, avoiding shelter use, and costs associated with interactions with the Criminal Justice System.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Edmonton Urban Games. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries

For more information on this program, contact:

Catherine Broomfield
Telephone: (780)421-8811
E-mail: Catherine@ihuman.org

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-14
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: