The Youth Resiliency Project (YRP) is a response to the need for innovative, flexible, effective youth programming that promotes and supports successful intervention, reintegration, and development for youth involved in the justice system. Utilizing the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award framework as an outline, young people participating in the YRP are guided and mentored through community partnerships. By enabling and facilitating greater community participation, the project aims to foster personal growth and development in the lives of criminally involved youth between the ages of 14-18.


At Nelson Mandela's request, the Award was introduced in correctional centres in South Africa in 1994. Since this time, The President's Award for Youth Empowerment reports having enrolled over 40,000 young offenders aged 14-18 into the program. Young offenders interviewed after their experience with the Award described positive changes in their behaviour and attitude and reported that, as a result of being involved in the Award, they learnt a range of new skills and had been afforded positive experiences they had never had before.

Impact and Benefits

Research has shown young offenders' participation in the Award results in a positive shift in attitudes towards re-offending, higher levels of victim empathy and a heightened awareness of the importance of helping. These Award participants experience increased confidence, communication skills and respect for others, as well as improved relationships with peers and staff.

The Award offers a non-formal education framework in which young people set their own targets, and choose the activities in which they want to participate in the areas of developing skills, keeping physically active, giving service and experiencing adventure. It can be adopted and fitted to the needs of other programs, such as the ones present in correctional facilities. The Award is participant-centred and can play a critical role in young people's development during their time in correctional facilities and after their release. More information about our impact measures can be found here.

Funding & Support

With generous funding from the Department of Justice Canada, the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut Division have been afforded the opportunity to create the YRP. We are pleased to use this funding to sponsor participant enrollment fees, activity costs, and materials associated with the Award journey.

We are fortunate to work with a number of organizations which support young persons at-risk in their Award activities. A special thank you to:

Contact Us

For more information about the YRP and how to get involved, we invite you to connect with a Program Officer in our Division Office.

  • I haven't had a lot of good experiences in my life... I've been in jail for 4 years. But [my Adventurous Journey] was a very memorable experience that made me feel like life is worth living, which is something I've struggled to believe in…
    - F.A., Bronze Award Achiever
  • Before I knew about [the Award], I was in a place where things didn't seem possible without criminal activity. I was consistently in trouble with teachers, parents and the law; I didn't know how to do something productive… [now] I am a completely different person than I used to be. The Award has [awakened] a part in me I didn't believe existed [and] has allowed me a second chance into showing [everyone] who I really am.
    - K.A., Bronze Award Achiever
  • On connecting with Indigenous culture:
    By attending sweat lodges as part of my Adventurous Journey, I learned to become more forgiving and less angry.
    - P.P., Bronze Award Achiever
  • For my Skill, I chose to do photography which I discovered I have a passion for. This program taught me that I want to pursue a career in digital design. It also showed me how much I love to help people.
    - F.A., Silver Award Achiever
  • Thank you! [The CYOC Sports Program] was such a fantastic experience… I am thrilled how our student-athletes want to be involved more. The buzz is already across other teams and other Trojans student-athletes want to be part of it too.
    - Billie-Rae Busby, SAIT Trojans