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EmpowerU – what's it all about?

EmpowerU, a self-help seminar aimed at teenagers and young adults is fast becoming a well-recognised program to help teach young people important life skills.
Starting 16 years ago, EmpowerU has spanned over 6 countries, with over 23,000 people graduating from the program, focused on “teaching them how to take control of their lives and achieve a new sense of self-worth, direction and empowerment”.
NowUC caught up with Ishana Pilger, one of the assistants and employees at EmpowerU, to find out how helpful the program is for the younger demographic, and how she got involved.

An EmpowerU seminar in action.

What is EmpowerU?
EmpowerU is a 2-and-a-half-day personal development program for teenagers aged 13-25. It focuses on teaching things like communication skills, goal setting, finance and leadership skills. It also focuses on family, relationships and breaking through personal barriers.
EmpowerU’s website boasts a 98% success rate. Why do you think that it’s so successful and why do teenagers want to go to the workshop?
It’s a really positive program, and because so many people have had a good time and learn so much, they recommend it to other people in the same situations.
You say it is a positive experience. What goes on in the seminars?
It isn’t always a positive experience, it can be quite emotional and confronting as the participants experience some big personality and lifestyle changes. During the seminar we run activities that have participants think about ways to problem solve, show leadership skills, and open up about problems that they are having in life, so it can be very powerful.
How did you find out about EmpowerU?
During a high-school camp, they brought a presenter to run a brief EmpowerU program. I really enjoyed the seminar and did an actual program up in Sydney, before it was running in Canberra.
How did you end up working with EmpowerU?
Ishana Pilger, second from left, and other assists at a recent seminar.

I did the program a few times because I just really enjoyed it. I then became what you call an ‘Assist,’ which is basically a volunteer to help run the program and facilitate what the participants go through.
I was an Assist for a while, before I asked the head presenter if I could participate more behind the scenes, and in marketing and admin. So while I am still an Assist at the programs, I am also a Client Liaison Officer.
Do you feel like you’re making a difference by helping run these programs?
I just love seeing how much of a change the participants go through because it is really positive and life changing. You see a lot of these kids come in and some of them have really deep issues that they need to deal with, but to see everyone at the end, celebrating their life with the tools to succeed is really incredible.
Some participants come into the program as you said with issues. Do you have to be more understanding to help these participants?
A lot of the time the participants don’t want to be there in the first place as their parents have made them go along. Most of the time we have to start off the seminar convincing them that this program is going to be really good, and by the end of the first section they are all really glad they came along.
In terms of being an understanding person, you do need to have the ability to be compassionate and, in a way, sympathetic.  You don’t know what someone has been through, but they have been sent to this program to find ways to help them through their difficulties and you’re there to support them.
Do you think that you are an example of what the program can help people achieve?
Definitely. While I may not be the extreme case of how much it can affect a young person’s life, the skills I learned since when I first did the program are still relevant. I have been able to implement them and take advantage of some amazing opportunities in life.
Has being an Assist been beneficial to you as well?
I think since I’ve been working there, I’ve definitely seen how much my interpersonal skills and communication with others has grown. I am always improving in that field and have seen a change of how much more of a positive person I’ve become.
If people are reading this and they want to know more, where can they find some more information?
So, there is a website, but we can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. We are everywhere so if this sounds like something you would be interested in, bookings can be made through the website.

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