Youth at Risk Development Program (YARD)

Launched in 2008 by the Calgary Police Service and The City of Calgary, the Youth at Risk Development Program (YARD) is an evidence-based initiative that seeks to prevent or stop gang involvement and criminal behavior among youth aged 10 to 17 years.

Ultimately, YARD seeks to prevent, reduce, or stop participants’ criminal and gang involvement. To this end, the YARD team works to reduce or mitigate research-identified factors that place young people at risk of gang and other criminal involvement and introduce or strengthen the factors that can improve at-risk youths’ developmental trajectories and longer-term success in life.

Community and Neighborhood Services (CNS) and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) bring a unique perspective to the youth gang issue. The Calgary Police Service has developed an evidence based four component multi-pronged gang strategy which includes education, prevention, disruption and investigation. The approach adopted by the Calgary Police Service is based upon the Spergel Model which focuses upon prevention, intervention and suppression. The Spergel Model requires an alliance among a variety of community partners including law enforcement, social service organizations, and other community organizations. The premise behind the practice of this model encourages community stakeholders to connect, and move together towards organizational and social change. This approach incorporates a spectrum of both proven and innovative investigative techniques and interventions. The issue of youth gangs in Calgary has provided an opportunity for a partnership between Community and Neighborhood Services and the Calgary Police Service in an effort to provide support to vulnerable youth.

Youth at risk are identified through a variety of sources such as the Calgary Police Service, Youth Probation, Calgary schools, Calgary Young Offender Centre, and community agencies within the city. Identified youth between the ages of 10 and 17 will be contacted and informed of the opportunity to participate in YARD. Once engaged in the YARD program youth and their families will be provided with a range of services specific to each family’s recognized needs. By building upon individual and family strengths the YARD program aims to decrease the risk factors that were initially acknowledged. This is accomplished through the provision and ongoing support of the YARD staff.

The YARD program targets youth who display behaviors and attitudes that have been associated with increased risk of gang involvement regardless of their status in the Criminal Justice System. Through a voluntary, detailed assessment, and the implementation of an individualized treatment plan designed for both young people and their families YARD will strive to decrease youth gang involvement. YARD is not time limited with the potential for young people and their families to continue with ongoing support. Recognizing the importance of research and outcomes, evaluation measures will be implemented from the outset of the program and an independent evaluation will be completed. The outcome measures will assist in further program refinement towards the successful delivery of an innovate initiative.

Youth involved in gangs can also talk to a counsellor confidentially 24/7 by calling the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. The Kids Help Phone will offer advice on any problems or concerns they may have.

Reporting gang activity
Call the Gang Helpline at 403-428-8191. If you’re involved in an emergency situation contact 9-1-1. Otherwise, contact the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234
More information and additional resources

For further information, you can email the YARD program team at or call 403-428-8409.