Youth Odyssey’s Public Housing Program

Youth Odyssey works a variety of programs with a wide range of participants. All of them come from different backgrounds and different levels of outdoor experience. But one of our programs is very special because of the difference that we see when working there. Whats special about this program, is that we know a little more about our participants. Because of that we can create a much more focused curriculum to fit their needs. Having that makes for more effective facilitation and impactful experiences.

Knowing Your Audience

Youth Odyssey Public Housing Program Trips and Ropes Courses

When working with people, it’s important to know the audience that you are working with. Every lesson created by a Youth Odyssey program facilitator is created from scratch and is tailor fitted for each program they are at. The housing programs with Youth Odyssey run for a month long, and allow the youth to meet 4 times a week with their facilitator. Over this time period, it is the facilitator’s job to create a relationship with the group. Their new task will be to create a relationship with the group and begin to develop them into successful and prepared citizens.

Being that Difference

Youth Odyssey strives to be the best role models for every youth that comes into one of the programs. That can look like so many things. Sometimes it can be a someone to listen, someone to help with homework,  or someone to show interests in their hobbies. As facilitators we understand that things come at us in so many different ways so we attempt to be prepared for them all. But one thing that seems to always work as a great tool, is the outdoors. This works for so many reasons, for example, the health benefits, mental and spiritual benefits and even social skills.

Outside Resources

There is a great video that discusses the benefits from the outdoors for youth in public housing. In this video Dr. Christine Norton investigates the many positive benefits and influences time in the outdoors can have on youth. Her study was conducted at a public housing center in Texas, where they met with youth for an extended period of time. Dr. Norton and Youth Odyssey see the values that can come from the outdoors, and want to provide that to those that currently benefit the least from. Resources like our are not to commonly found in general, and understand that many circumstances can make it even harder for housing communities to provide.

Bridging the Gap

Its important that we not only recognize that our housing programs have limited access to certain resources. But it’s more important that Youth Odyssey and other organizations see that we have the ability to provide these to youth that can greatly benefit from them. Marginalized communities tend to have limited access to the outdoors, so Youth Odyssey steps in and provides exactly that. And not just the outdoors like parks, lakes and rivers, but other programs like outdoor appreciation, conservation. In doing so we open the eyes of our youth to what they have access to here in the Coastal Bend and beyond.

It all comes down to being the bridge that eliminated the gap between this community and the benefits of the outdoors. Studies have shown that simply being outside has both mental and physical benefits. It generates and creates stronger social connections with their peers and with nature. Paired with our curriculum that teaches essential life skills, the youth in our housing programs grow a substantial amount after it’s completion.

Be an ambassador of the outdoors

Like mentioned earlier, we see the importance in working with every single participant that joins a Youth Odyssey program. But the need does exist for organizations like Youth Odyssey make their way into Housing Communities. There are free resources that our youth have access to that could change their life. It’s the job for organization like Youth Odyssey to show them how to learn from it and harness all the potential benefits. As outdoor professionals and any profession, there are ways that we can impact lives and change them forever. One of them is by showing everyone all the benefits that they can recieve from getting outside. Visit more parks, volunteer to clean a beach, journal about what is in your backyard. There are many ways for the youth in the coastal bend to grow in the outdoors.