About Us Banner.jpg

The Inner City Youth Development Association (ICDYA, 1990) grew out of the Inner City Drama Association (ICDA, 1986). The name was changed from Drama to Youth Development to better reflect the scope and breadth of programs offered.

Our Story

Since our inception we have used the arts as a tool to animate and empower Edmonton’s high risk urban youth. Popular Theatre is the art form that initially grabbed and energized so many of the youth who came through our programs. As we evolved, we incorporated other art forms in the self-expression process: visual arts, mask making, sculptures, video, photography, video, music and sound recording. We came to realize that expressing yourself and feeling good about what you have accomplished was not enough. Many of the youth we worked with didn't eat regularly or have a stable place to call home. So we rented a large house and made rooms available to youth in need. Once they were fed and more settled, the youth saw education as the route to change their lives. Collectively they understood that all the self-expression and good feelings that the arts generated doesn't pay the rent. So the youth asked us to start a school, and we set one up. In 1993 Inner City High School was established and accredited by Alberta Education. Inner City High School became what it is today: an academic and arts based senior high school. In combination with the school, our Youth Support Program help at risk youth develop the tools and attitudes they need to leave the street behind and become contributing members of society. 

Our Vision

The Inner City Youth Development Association (ICDYA) was established to provide Edmonton's high risk youth with tools and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, desperation, and dependence that dominates their lives, enabling them to become contributing members of our community.

  • We respond to the needs of the youth we serve with respect and hope.
  • We provide youth with the resources tools and attitudes to realize their dreams.
  • We provide every youth with a solid academic and arts based education.
  • We offer every youth in our programs with the opportunities, skills and resources to become contributing members of society.

As an independent non profit organization ICDYA strives to promote excellence and enhance the effectiveness of its programming and administration in all areas of its operations.

Our Principles

  • We base our daily practice on the values of trust respect, cooperation and non-violence.
  • We respect the individuality of all students and treat all students equally, and respect their inherent dignity and intelligence.
  • We believe that every youth in our programs has the right to access the resources that provide for their basic necessities and create the conditions for a pedagogy that responds to their needs.
  • We believe every student has the right to be provided with an education program that responds to their needs and a right to be supported in the completion of that program.

Our Values 

In all ICDYA programming, the values of trust, respect, cooperation, and non‑violence form the core of our activities. When these values are reinforced with a sound academic and arts‑based education, youth are able to become active and constructive citizens. All programming is congruent with our vision and mission statements and based on the values listed below. 


ICYDA staff members are committed to entering into trusting relationships with the youth in our programs. Trust means that youth are accepted for who they are and trusted that, provided with the resources, they want to create positive change in their lives. 


ICYDA staff members respect the self determination of young people and are committed to building relationships built on respect but at the same time realize that respect from youth, who are naturally wary and often emotionally wounded, must be earned.


ICYDA staff members are committed to developing relationships built on cooperation. In this context cooperation means that youth have a voice, wherever possible, in the creation, structure, and operation of ICYDA programs.

Non Violence

ICYDA staff members are committed to developing and facilitating non violent relationships in every aspect of the agencies operations. Violence, in this sense, is not restricted to physical acts of violence but includes threats and all other forms of abuse verbal or structural.

Our members recognize that the achievement of progress in each of these areas is often interconnected with developments in the others.