people empowering people

Communication Skills with PEP

A UConn Extension People Empowering People (PEP) class in March 2015. Madre Latina Inc., a Community organization from Waterbury visited. We were happy to have them because their experiences and knowledge help us to continue the process of help others. At another class, students made a game out of active listening and communication through crafts.

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Congratulations PEP Graduates

Congratulations to our recent UConnExtension‬ People Empowering People (PEP) graduates from Meriden and Putnam. A few graduates are pictured below, but many more were also recognized.

3 out of 5 graduates were able to make it to the graduation in Putnam, due to bad weather. Sherry Curran (far left) read a short description of each grad and what they brought to the group. Kris Cicchetti, President of the Northeast Early Childhood Council (next to Sherry) presented the certificates to the grads. Shannon Haney, PEP co-facilitator, (far right, back) is seen clapping for the next grad coming up for her certificate.
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PEP: Building Communities

People Empowering People (PEP) – Building Communities

By Robin Drago and Cathleen Love for UConn Extension


PEP October 2014 groupThe People Empowering People (PEP) Program is a personal and family development program with a strong community focus. PEP builds upon individual life experiences and strengths to encourage growth in communication and problem solving skills, parent and family relationships, and community involvement. The PEP program was created by retired Extension Educator Cheryl Czuba and is coordinated by Cathleen T. Love, Ph.D, a UConn Professor of Extension. Over one thousand people have graduated from the PEP program in the past fifteen years.

UConn PEP offers participants the opportunity to set goals, develop relationships, and make connections. Participants share their stories and find their voice and they begin to believe they can make a difference. Once this change happens there is no stopping them.

In the words of one of the UConn PEP graduates, “I learned so much from my participation in the UConn Extension PEP program. I learned from every UConn PEP participant in my wonderful group. I learned or rather re-learned things like trust in groups. I came to appreciate different lifestyles and different ways of thinking, living, caring, sharing, and teaching. The UConn Extension PEP program helped me renew my faith in how wonderful people are. It has reopened my eyes to how important differences are in people, in every aspect, but yet in the end how we really are the same and that we, each one of us, can make a difference.”

Another participant tells us, “I enjoyed every moment of our classes. It sometimes took every ounce of energy to drag myself there, but never once did I regret it. I loved the stories we shared, the tears we shed, the laughter, the trust within the group, and the comfort we felt in sharing and speaking with one another. Our “PEP” talks empowered us to accomplish or obtain something. Every moment, every word, every tear, every laugh, and every lesson will be a permanent tattoo, not only in my mind, but in my heart.”

During the UConn PEP program one amazing woman set a personal goal to go to college. She is now working on her Bachelor’s degree. The change in her was lasting and rewarding. She believed she could do it, set her goal, and her passion and commitment gave her the courage to follow through on her dream to go to college.

The student says, “The opportunity to participate in UConn Extension PEP changed my life. I had begun to feel unworthy, unintelligent, unappreciated. This program built and renewed my confidence in myself. For that I am so appreciative.”

PEP participants realize their leadership potential and they take action to invest in themselves, in their families and in their communities. Over 30 new PEP facilitators were trained in October, and a recent refresher course for facilitators was held at the Hartford County Extension Center. For more information visit:

Teach Our Children PEP Graduation

The UConn Extension People Empowering People (PEP) program participants from Teach Our Children graduated on August 1st. Thirteen of the fifteen graduates were able to participate in the activities. One who recently arrived from China was unable to attend – she was in New York, and one parent from Sudan who has been in the country eight months with her husband and son was also unable to attend. It was so moving to hear the story of both participants.

The graduates had community “problems to solve” projects:

1. A Safe Routes to School initiative to get a sidewalk on Sherman Avenue and jumpstart new havens Safe Route 2 School Initiative (bus & child pedestrian safety). One of our graduates set up her project display at the graduation.
2. Student 2 Students afterschool support for kids needing academic help. We submitted this project to the City of New Haven 
3. A Back to School healthy food event.
One mother on our wait list for next PEP class shared a powerful poem “Unmask my brother” – she received a standing ovation. UConn Extension and Teach Our Children are excited to continue the PEP program.
skeia dickers powerful poem 8.1.2014 PEP community problems TOC Helen safe route
No child held back book TOC PEP graduation PEP graduation booklet


People Empowering People in Enfield

UConn Extension‘s People Empowering People (PEP) program had a Community Conversation project where we talked about how to help the Hispanic community in Enfield. In the other pictures, we were helping Latino parents and kids how to read books in Spanish, the District III Mayor Scott R. Kaupin from Enfield CT was there, also David Alexander State Representative from Enfield CT.

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People Empowering People

UConn Extension People Empowering People (PEP) is offered in Correctional Institutions as well. Our volunteers now offer programs in York, MacDougal, Cheshire, Enfield, Radgowski and Garner Correctional Institutions in partnership with the Department of Corrections. The Program Coordinator is Peter Sage and he devotes an enormous amount of time to recruiting volunteers and visiting programs. He and Cathy Love of UConn Extension are working on the UConn Extension PEP program in a Correctional Institution.

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