While their parents are in class, 50 children and grandchildren of Odyssey students, ages 2-18, participate in one of our three Odyssey Junior classrooms. Recognizing that breaking the cycle of generational poverty involves whole families, we piloted Odyssey Junior in 2015 to support children in self-discovery, literacy, and expression through a variety of forms, including writing, speaking, visual arts, music, movement, and theatre.
Check out the Odyssey Junior Oracle to see what students have been up to! Be sure to also check out this video from the 2019 Odyssey Junior graduation ceremony that features Odyssey junior students, teachers, and families.
We have book reports at school. It made me feel confident to read in front of my entire class because we do it at Odyssey.Odyssey Junior student
Odyssey Junior summer camps!
Every summer, Odyssey Junior alumni are given the opportunity to attend summer camps throughout Madison. The cost of summer camp can be prohibitive for many families, so Odyssey partners with local camps to reduce the cost of attendance for Odyssey Junior students. Sponsorship from the American Girl’s Fund for Children and Madison Rotary Foundation supplements the reduced cost so that children can select and attend camps nurturing their diverse interests. These interests are often discovered during their time in Odyssey Junior. Some of the many camps attended include STEAM Camp through the Urban League, Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY), and Aldo Leopold Nature Explorers. Students experience the pride and excitement of trying new activities, building their skill-sets, and making connections with peers and professionals alike. Many students who meet in Odyssey Junior choose to attend summer camp together, deepening those ties and creating lasting friendships.
In exit surveys camp goers indicated overwhelmingly positive experiences. One student wrote, “I got to meet new people, network with professionals, and inquire about what they do for a living.” A parent wrote, “It was a great experience, and the friendships made are everlasting.”
Needless to say, the summer of 2019 has been a busy one! Be sure to check out the pictures below for a look into some of the camps that our Odyssey Junior alumni have participated in so far!
Odyssey Junior's impact
A recent evaluation found that Odyssey Junior has a positive impact on participants’ interest and confidence in reading and self-expression. Specific outcomes include:
- 74% of children indicated that Odyssey Junior helped them develop their love of reading. Students shared that “I like reading more, learning new words” and “[Odyssey Junior] reintroduced me to reading.”
- Across all age groups “was the sense that involvement in Odyssey Junior improved students’ writing ability.” One student shared, “we have book reports at school, it made me feel confident to read in front of my entire class, because we do it at Odyssey.”
- Odyssey Junior created a safe community for students to take risks and express themselves, which allowed for positive outcomes around self-efficacy, self-confidence, and self-expression.
- Participants reported that Odyssey Junior helped them to develop goals related to attending college. Students now talk about “when” rather than “if” they go to college.