Peer Empowerment Project (PEP)

 Leadership and Self-Advocacy for Women with Disabilities

 ~Because disabled women are ready for a “pep talk”


Offered by the National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum and facilitated by experienced women leaders and advocates in the disability community, this 8 -week series of leadership trainings for women with disabilities addresses a spectrum of topics:

  • Historical views of disability and the Disability Rights Movement  
  • Feminism, Civil Rights, and Disability Justice in a nondisabled world – Exercising all your rights
  • Understanding, naming, and eliminating ableism
  • The importance of language and the words we use to refer to ourselves and our differences
  • Assertive communication
  • Advocacy— learning how to use your personal power
    • Organizing your allies 
    • Identifying your issues and goals 
    • Action planning and follow through
    • Framing your argument
    • Presenting your case
    • Reaching the changemakers 
    • Guaranteeing a win
  • Sharing your stories from a position of power
  • Using social media to empower ourselves and expand our network of empowered disabled women. 
  • Body image and body ownership
  • Loving our bodies also means taking care of them – women’s health, nutrition, and fitness
  • Keeping your cool – managing stress, anger, and depression
  • Love, intimacy, and healthy relationships through the lens of disability justice
  • Independence –what it REALLY means

This powerful training also includes:

  • Panels of disabled women leaders and role models
  • A barbeque cookout and fun day
  • An Art/Advocacy Project
  • Opportunities to practice leadership skills in a small group of peers
  • Development of individual “PEP” talks to prepare participants to be somebody’s PEP sister using the advocacy tools provided in this training
  • Opportunities to serve as a PEP leader to empower disabled girls and women who, like you, need someone to look up to. 
  • A certificate of completion and celebration day


Every movement of liberation also shares a history of oppression. Even within social justice movements, girls and women with disabilities are always the ones to be left behind. In 21st century America, girls with disabilities continue to be denied basic rights such as access to their own bodies. Social stereotypes have denied us the right to grow into our own selves without the oppression of labels and ableist expectations that to this day keep us out of the circle of power. General programs about girl and women empowerment have little or no concept of disability inclusion, simply leaving out our realities, needs, and dreams. In fact, while our nondisabled peers get the talk about the birds and the bees, disabled girls get negative messages, subliminal and otherwise, about how broken and undesirable we are. PEP Talk is a unique 8-week summer program of advocacy and self-love, a project of emotional health and self-esteem building, a platform where we let the wounds of our history become badges of survival. PEP Talk is about learning to share our stories, our personal lessons of loss and survival, and the things we have learned as disabled women. In this way, the younger generation can have role models who understand the power and beauty of every girl’s uniqueness.  


Based on scientifically proven teaching techniques and carefully tailored to the lives of disabled women, this powerful workshop series uses activities, exercises, games, discussions, lectures, and videos. It includes guest speakers and panels that offer exposure to the realities faced by women with disabilities who have accomplished things most disabled girls have been led to believe could not be done. This includes but is not limited to motherhood, career, intimacy and relationships, leadership, and more. It also offers participants the opportunity to be part of an ongoing art advocacy project that will be passed on from one training to the next with its own message of artistic advocacy. It will become a movable art piece representative of the voices of disabled women.   


Houston Disability Activist and Workshop Facilitator Maria R. Palacios, in partnership with fellow NWwDEF Board members Dr. Margaret Nosek, and Attorney Wendy Wilkinson, the Peer Empowerment Project comes to life connecting young women with disabilities with each other and with the community.  


NWeDEF is partnering with Houston Center for Independent Living (HCIL). Classes will be held at both locations, our home location at West Gray as well as HCIL headquarters. 

Participants will be able to attend some sessions via online video conferencing. 


Weekly meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays:  Noon – 2:00 PM; January 14 –March 5, 2020. 


$330; scholarships are available by application

CONTACT:, (832) 342-8752, downloadable application at  


National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum 
1475 West Gray #160
Houston, Texas 7701
832-393-5280 ;

NWwDEF is a 501c(3) nonprofit tax-exempt organization. Sponsorships are welcome.