A Guyanese native, Melissa was born and raised in Georgetown where she had the privilege of attending St. Gabriel’s Primary School and Queen’s College. After immigrating to Toronto in 1997, Melissa attended the Downsview Secondary School and subsequently the University of Toronto, where she obtained an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. She currently works as a Research Coordinator at Women’s College Research Institute’s Familial Breast Cancer Unit and is pursuing a Master of Public health degree at the University of Queensland.
In December 2008, Melissa along with Co-Founder started The Backpack Project to assist students of impoverished families to pursue their educational goals. The Backpack Project is a non-profit initiative aimed at promoting health and education among Caribbean students between the ages of 5 to 18.
Melissa is also a volunteer group facilitator at Dr. Roz’ Healing Place, a shelter for abused women, where she presents health-related talks to the women in Ontario Canada. She also plans and implements children’s activities in the Children’s Department at the shelter. Melissa is also the Vice President of Communications and Membership of the Queen’s College Alumni Association’s Toronto Chapter and was previously involved in peer mentorship programs, providing assistance to troubled youth in secondary schools and to disabled university students who needed assistance inside and outside of the classroom.
The Backpack Project
The Backpack Project believes that education is a basic human right, not a privilege, and that health is a key factor determining the success of a child’s development. The organization will encourage the pursuit of formal education amongst underprivileged children in the Caribbean by providing basic school supplies and will foster a healthy learning environment by providing personal supplies to backpack recipients. The Backpack Project hopes to leverage the resources of its sponsors, donors, volunteers and other stakeholders in a collaborative manner to further its objective of universal childhood education in the Caribbean.
Pre-packaged backpacks containing school and personal supplies are sent confidentially to students, to provide them with the educational resources they need such as books and stationery, as well as items to assist with personal hygiene.
We are an organization that provides the resources to allow students to pursue higher learning. It is through this initiative that we intend to keep children’s dreams alive by providing them with a basic education so that they may break their family’s cycle of poverty.
Students are identified by Caribbean educators who notify the organization of their needs. Backpacks are then assembled and sent to the students. Upon receipt of the backpacks, the students notify the Backpack Project Team, and maintain regular correspondence with us regarding their educational progress.
In her BPP bio, Melissa states “My passion for education, as well as the well-rounded development of today’s youth, has been the driving force in my being co-founder of The Backpack Project, as I believe that each child should be entitled to a formal education regardless of his/her family’s financial situation. Consequently, I believe that The Backpack Project will assist with student’s well-rounded development, one backpack at a time.”
To get involved and volunteer or to donate to this outstanding initiative, visit the website: http://backpackproject.ca/
Follow The Backpack Project: https://www.facebook.com/TheBackpackProject
A BACKPACK consists of –
Scientific Calculator (high school students)
Geometry Sets (high school students)
AND Backpacks/School Bags/Book bags (of course!)