Welcome to The Backpack Project

The Backpack Project is an online interaction tool developed by Youth Empowerment & Support Services (www.yess.org) in Edmonton, Alberta Canada - a non-profit organization who provides emergency shelter and support programs to at-risk and homeless youth. It is designed to take you, the participant, into the world of a youth that is in trouble, either with parental struggles, addiction issues, etc. and has no support system, and no where to call home. It asks the question “What would you do?”, and asks you to face some day-to-day situations that are faced by at-risk teens. For example, you’re hungry and you have no money and nowhere to find a meal. What do you do? Do you stay hungry or do you go to a mall and wait in the food court for someone to leave some food behind?

How does it work?

There are six teens that participants can choose to guide through the interaction, three girls and three boys. It’s important to know that all six kids represented here are based on true stories – these "characters" are real kids that have come through the doors at Youth Empowerment & Support Services. When the interaction begins, you work your way through a series of choices on behalf of your youth. That series of choices will guide you through a virtual week in the life of your teen. But before you begin - you need to make a donation. The amount of your donation determines the bonuses that your youth will have in their backpack during the online interaction. For example, you might donate enough to get some food so that when faced with a hunger problem, you simply have to tell your kid to eat the food instead of going hungry. You may donate enough to have a blanket to snuggle into on those cold winter nights. At the end of the interaction, you learn where your real-life kid is today. Maybe they are still struggling on the streets, maybe they and are finding success in one of the programs available for help, maybe they are back at home, or succeeding out on their own…or maybe we’ve lost touch with them and don’t know where they are.

Why is it called The Backpack Project?

It’s called The Backpack Project because you and your youth are armed with only what is in your virtual backpack. What you will have available to you during the interaction is often what homeless teens have on them when they come looking for help.

What do you hope to achieve with The Backpack Project?

Awareness is always key with our organization and for the plight of these kids. We love for people to know who we are, what we do and most importantly who we are there to help. It’s our hope that the donation component of the project will help us reach our financial goals so that we can continue to offer help to the youth facing difficult realities. Please go to our website, www.yess.org, to learn more about the great work that we do!