On June 27, the YWCA Central Massachusetts honored the first group of graduates of the People Empowering People (PEP) program. PEP is a life skills and parent leadership program from the University of Connecticut. Through a series of 10 weekly sessions, the parents worked on communication, problem solving, parenting, and leadership skills. They also learned about action planning and community opportunity, while continuing to focus on their own values.
PEP is a collaboration between the YWCA, Worcester Community Connections Coalition, YOU, Inc., and the Worcester Public Schools Wrap-Around Initiative. Brenda Safford, director of the Young Parents Program at the YWCA, Dawn Johsnon of the Citywide Parent Planning Advisory Council, Jennifer Jimenez of the Worcester Public Schools Wrap-Around Initiative, and Anne Bureau of the Worcester Community Connection Coalition served as facilitators, attending the initial trainings and designing a curriculum to bring to Worcester. The idea of the program was to develop the participants into leaders of tomorrow, and give them the opportunity and confidence to make positive changes in their communities.
“We began by focusing on the individuals, their values and world-views, so they could get to know themselves,” Safford explained. “From there we worked on group dynamics, and with these skills the participants were able to design a project they wanted to implement in their own community.”
At the end of the sessions the participants were required to develop a project intended to support a need in their community. Some of the projects created were a “Mobile Playgroup: For Kids by Parents, which will provide an opportunity for parents to bring their kids to play in a safe environment, and “Helping Hands Helping Families,” which intends to gather donations from area businesses and distribute where there is a need. “It was an honor to work with the participants, and witness their growth in becoming leaders in the program and their passion for their community,” Safford said. “All our graduates are already making a difference in their communities.”
The graduates are as follows:
Carrie Carliell - Honorable Mention
Theona Lourens - Honorable Mention