Changing The Odds Programs
The goal of the Windsor Endowment for the Arts’ Changing the Odds: Community Transformation through the Arts (CTO) program is to make the arts more accessible to local youth living with challenging social, emotional, financial, physical or mental health circumstances, and who tend to be under-served due to their life situations.
CTO Program For Indigenous Youth (2020)
WEA aspires to create a CTO program for Indigenous youth in the upcoming years. As one of the fastest growing segments of the population in Canada, Indigenous youth are brilliant, vibrant, and resilient but many of them face significant challenges. Indigenous youth are still living with the consequences borne by centuries of colonialism and racism—consequences that include the loss of culture and socio-economic hardship. In the spirit of Reconciliation, WEA is determined to forge a partnership with the Indigenous community to help transform the lives of Indigenous youth for the better. WEA also understands that any program focused on Indigenous youth requires the participation, wholeheartedly and in good faith, of the Indigenous community, with regard to the conception, planning, and the delivery of the program. It is seeking a true collaboration between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous stakeholders.
CTO Program Run by Melissa Miner (Summer 2019)
The 2019 Changing the Odds Program was run by Melissa Miner, the Executive Director of the Downtown Music Initiative. In the summer, the Downtown Music Initiative offered 7 weeks of free music lessons and instrument loans to 20 youth ages 4-17 from low-income families in Downtown Windsor.
CTO At The School Of Dramatic Art (2013–2018)
From 2013 to 2018, CTO was an interdisciplinary arts program for teens aged 14-19, who live with challenging social, emotional, financial, physical or mental health circumstances, and who tend to be under served due to their life situations. This arts-based program housed in the Jackman Dramatic Art Centre at the University of Windsor, and delivered by the School of Dramatic Art (SODA) provided youth with a welcoming space and place for exploration and self-development. Through various models of engagement that focus on leadership training, mentorship, theatre, and other arts related activities, the CTO program offered a platform for youth to speak up about “what is not being said in their lives, to advocate for themselves and to practice the creative and leadership skills introduced throughout the program.” The first edition of CTO was able to transform the lives of dozens of youth. Its tremendous success was due to the strength and commitment of the entire Windsor-Essex community.