The most need for and interest in Odyssey Height School is in providing a supportive and enriched program for girls ages 12 and up - particularly those with giftedness, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities. Girls mental health declines throughout adolescence, with grades 7-9 often being the start of anxiety and depressive disorders for girls.
The 2017 OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report found that for girls in grades 7-12 in Ontario:
42% have unmet mental health needs
Over 50% reported moderate to severe psychological distress
Only 36% got 8 or more hours of sleep on school nights
Less than 20% had daily physical activity (60 minutes or more)
5% had attempted suicide in the past year, while 19% had though about committing suicide
ALL the health indicators get worse as girls get older.
Note: The mental and physical health of both boys and girls in Ontario needs a great deal of improvement, however on most indicators twice as many girls reported negative results than boys.
To make Odyssey Heights financially accessible for more families we have reduced operating expenses. A disproportional amount of finances were being spent on the younger students including: Montessori materials and on age appropriate accommodations on the overnight OE3 trips. Girls ages 12+ do not need bunkhouse and outdoor education centre lodge accommodations. Ontario Parks and Parks Canada tent campsites (both front country and backcountry) and rustic roofed accommodations such as yurts, and rustic cabins cost much less than lodges, and are tons of fun!
Sadly, we have found that the presence of elementary students - most especially those with their own unique mental health needs - has been quite disruptive to the learning of older students both academically in credit course hours and in the OE3 program. Unlike elementary school girls, teens girls with mental health needs rarely (if ever) have violent screaming temper tantrums that disrupt learning in several rooms/floors at once, and interfere with safe horseback riding trips. (Such disruptive behaviours combined with students not receiving medical support for their mental illnesses are the two key reasons that Odyssey Heights is reopening next year with a substantially revised program and stricter admissions policies, and conduct expectations for current students.)
We can do more awesome equestrian and adventure activities (including trail rides) as many stables and outdoor guides require participants to be ages 12+.
Perhaps in future years we will revisit a program for girls ages 6-11, but that would be far in the future, and be in a different building than middle and senior school.