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the emPOWERment project

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Respect and Manners at School and Work

Imagine walking into a classroom and seeing several seventh graders standing on their desks. Kids shouting obscenities and hurling objects at each other. You are there to introduce them to the EP program Respect and Manners at School and Work. You will not be well-received. 

Fast forward 12 weeks. Imagine entering a ballroom with white linen tablecloths and flowers on the tables. Catch your breath at seeing students in their Sunday best standing silently behind their chairs, waiting for their adult tablemates before sitting down to their EP graduation luncheon. The room is still. Welcome to my world and the life-changing potential of the emPOWERment project’s program Respect and Manners at School and Work.


A local school district recognized the potential of this 501 (c)(3) nonprofit and its program developed in 2009. The district initially invited us to present our ten sessions to sixth graders during the school day at an elementary school. Classes such as Expressions of Respect; Making Good Decisions; and Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution quickly began to create respectful student attitudes and make positive actions a habit, as students recognized the POWER Qualities within them---courage, discipline, compassion, perseverance, strength, patience, and so many others.

Program Impact: Student Reviews

How do the emPOWERment project classes change student attitudes and behaviors? Here are a few excerpts from sixth and seventh graders’ evaluations:

--- I’m more caring of others’ feelings.
--- I used to be so disrespectful to teachers but I worked on it.
--- I now am polite and don’t have an attitude.

What were the students’ favorite sessions? Building Respectful Relationships was one. Why? “So we won’t be in a relationship we will regret.” Making Good Decisions was another popular class because they learned, as one seventh grader so eloquently put it, “If you make a bad decision, it will mess with your life.”

And what exactly did they learn? In their own words:

--- You have to give respect to get it.
--- I have to use respect all the time.
--- To be my best, one second at a time.

Roll ‘em!

In response to the interest we received from other school districts, parents, and individuals eager to learn more about our successful program, we began filming our program in 2019. By this delivery method, we knew we could provide schools across the country with a powerful learning package, the EP POWER BOX, that would include EP program DVD’s, communication tools, teachers' manuals, and supplemental material.

Our enthusiastic EP Video kids loved doing the tapings! The CCS cards from Australia were a huge hit with them. Introduced by their creators, this image-based communication tool encourages respectful and honest conversations. One of the boys said, “I love these cards! They help me say what I want to say!”

Within the first half of 2022, we expect to complete the filming schedule delayed by COVID. The EP program now includes 14 sessions and a stronger cross-cultural component to prepare students to become respectful and respected world citizens. Our attending the International Trade Council's Think Global Conference in Chicago in 2019 and winning ITC's Business of the Year Going Global Award in the social services category have served as catalysts for expanding the EP curriculum in this way. We were heartened that the emPOWERment project and its program were greeted with enthusiasm and appreciation by conference participants from all over the world. 

Guest speakers are a vital part of the EP program. Ryan Higgins, co-founder of a Rwandan orphan sponsorship program, will talk with students during the session Steps to Respect: Walking in Another’s Shoes. The Power of One session will be led by Ferial Pearson, author of the book Secret Kindness Agents, TED Talk presenter, and starter of a movement! New guest speakers Johnny Rodgers and Marlin Briscoe will be joining us for our Respect and Sports session. And we are excited to welcome many more speakers to the EP program!

Become a Respect Advocate!

Why are your contributions and support so important? Simply put, because Respect and Manners at School and Work can make an immediate difference in the lives of children. As we have seen, students are quick to embrace its concepts of respect for self and others and begin living them. But making the EP program available for purchase to all US elementary schools and middle schools is a challenging goal.

Please stand with us by contributing financially and by sharing our message through and Your donations and outreach will help support the emPOWERment project and enable us to meet the substantial costs of the development, production, manufacture, marketing, and delivery of the EP POWER BOXES throughout the country.

As you may know, your contribution to our 501(c)(3) nonprofit is tax-deductible. 

Now It’s Personal

Heartbreaking, unforgettable memories from the past drive me:

• The seventh grader who, on the last day of school, said he would give us all the money in his back account--- $50--- and what he earned from his summer job if we would come back to teach his class again.
• The fourth grade little boy from a troubled home who slept each night with my thank you note under his pillow. In it, I thanked him for the picture he had drawn me, and I wrote what a good boy he was and everything I admired about him.
• The shy sixth grade girl who waited for me after our first class to tell me that none of the 25 POWER Qualities the students listed on the board described her. I assured her they did---they were withins, not add-ons---and we would discover them within her together.

The emPOWERment project’s program Respect and Manners at School and Work can lift children’s hearts and help these children know how innately respectable and invaluable they are--- how it is their right and obligation to act every day from that perspective.

Please help me take this message to the children---for their sakes, for all our sakes. A former student who was asked what he would always remember from our sessions said, “To do good and to try my best.”  Words to live by. Me, too.

Can we all make a difference together? Of course, we can. Of course, we must. As Helen Keller wrote, “One should never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.”


Susan Adams
Omaha, NE

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