Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Paris-Michelle: Looking beyond self

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Twenty-seven-year-old Paris-Michelle Barrett-Powell thrives through the chronic neurological disorder of epilepsy by devoting her heart and soul to the Young Women and Men of Purpose (YWOP) - a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Barrett-Powell saw the vision of this NGO on empowering youths and person with disabilities to become trailblazers in their fields globally and was drawn to support the movement. Their passion appears honest and it struck close to home with the strides she has made irrespective of her illness.

Spending most of her academic life in the hospital due to seizures and complications of her condition, Barrett-Powell faced many challenges that sometimes became unbearable, but with a sense of purpose, she fought and overcame. Though she still has the feeling of fear when she has to speak at empowerment session, Barrett-Powell focuses on teaching awareness and making those with disabilities confident in themselves.

Joining YWOP in 2015 as an administrative coordinator, Barrett-Powell became part of the Realise Embrace Achieve Your Purpose (REAP) Project that focused on providing guidance and mentorship to disadvantaged and at-risk young women in Manchester. She also coordinates expos geared at broadening the awareness of project participants on the vast array of career and educational possibilities available to them, and the agencies and resources vital to their professional development.




"YWOP allows me to lend my creative talents and expertise in youth work, project design/implementation and creative facilitation to shaping the lives of youth, women and PWDs in central Jamaica, and contribute to the furtherance of organisation's commitment to unlocking youth potential," she explained.

Barrett-Powell has always promoted human welfare, as she is happiest when she is uplifting those who have been knocked down and led to believe that because of their gender, abilities and backgrounds, they are unable to achieve success or strive at their passions. She believes that everyone has the ability to make a positive impact on the world, as though she is faced with her condition, it has made her the woman she is today.

In the future, Barrett-Powell hopes to start her own non-profit. One that will provide personal support, scholarships and awards for thriving children and youth with disabilities, and disadvantaged girls, and raise disability awareness to create greater understanding for the disabled. She also plans on using her talents in theatre arts (drama, poetry, spoken word) in the empowerment of others.

Alongside her volunteerism, Barrett-Powell occupies the role of youth empowerment officer with the Youth and Adolescents Policy Division of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, where she also gets to utilise her passion and love for children in the Jamaican society.