A Student Voice Project

Report Summary

Grade 8 Students on Community Safety in Mill Woods

5 Mill Woods Schools participated in A Student Voice, a project designed by the Mill Woods Youth Collaborative. The Mill Woods Youth Collaborative is a partnership of human service providers working in Mill Woods who were interested in developing the project as a way to engage youth in discussing social & community issues, and to assist service providers in responding to the needs identified by the youth.

A Student Voice used community mapping to invite Grade 8 Mill Woods students to:

  1. Identify assets in their community
  2. Identify safe and unsafe areas in their community
  3. Think of creative ways to improve undesirable areas and activities in their community

The lessons aimed to engage students in conversations about their community, and specifically about how they view community safety. The lessons fit into the local Grade 8 Health and Life Skills curriculum and were facilitated by their teachers. The students considered where & how they spend their after-school time, where in Mill Woods they feel safe or unsafe, and what could be done to make Mill Woods a safer place and a better place for teens.

  • Lesson 1

    Where do you spend your time?

    Small groups of students used four guiding questions to discuss and complete a feedback form related to their out-of-school time: what they do, where and with whom. The class then identified classroom trends.

  • Lesson 2

    Safety: Mapping safe and unsafe areas in the community

    Large maps of Mill Woods were provided, and small groups of students marked on the maps where they felt safe and unsafe. The students discussed why they had marked an area safe or unsafe. A classroom discussion determined the class’ top 5 safe and top 5 unsafe places, and each student identified their own top 3 places.

  • Lesson 3


    Students were asked what could be done to make Mill Woods a safer place and what they could do to contribute to that outcome. Students also discussed how Mill Woods could be a better place for teens. Small groups of students worked together to create posters using highlights from the above discussion.

Where & How Students Spent After- School Time

Students most frequently reported spending their after-school time at home, in malls, and at the homes of friends. They spent time hanging out with friends, using electronics (e.g. video games, computer, television) and participating in physical activities.

Places in Mill Woods Students Selected as Safe or Unsafe

Students selected their homes, the schools they attended, and Grey Nuns hospital as safe places in Mill Woods. Malls, other schools, and park areas were selected as unsafe areas in Mill Woods. The majority of students reported occasionally spending time in places they felt unsafe, such as malls, outdoor recreation areas and transit stations. Drugs were reported as the biggest problem in Mill Woods.

Making Mill Woods a Safer and Better Place for Teens

To make Mill Woods safer and a better place for teens, students recommended more police presence, more security (e.g. security cameras, security guards) and more activities for people to enjoy, like movies, sports, and after-school programs.

The students also came up with a variety of ways that both they and their communities could contribute to improving Mill Woods. Their suggestions included keeping public areas tidy, better lighting at night, improved traffic control, reporting criminal activities, and community engagement (e.g. volunteering, community discussions).

Thank you to the students and schools who participated in this project. Your participation is greatly appreciated in providing us insight into the perspective of Grade 8 students on safety in their Mill Woods communities.

The Mill Woods Youth Collaborative

The Mill Woods Youth Collaborative (MWYC) is a partnership of human service providers working with youth in Mill Woods & Edmonton. Organizations that assisted in the development of A Student Voice include:

  • Bredin Institute
  • City of Edmonton Community Services
  • Edmonton Public Library
  • J. Percy Page High School
  • M.A.P.S. Alberta
  • Mill Woods Family Resource Centre
  • Mill Woods Presbyterian Church
  • Neighbourhood Empowerment Team
  • The Way In
  • YMCA Edmonton