Peer Power Home Page: Photo Collage: Peer Power at Work and Play

What is Peer Power?

Peer power is a peer-based, student-run program designed to support high school students with all types of disabilities to take the lead in their transition planning for their lives after high school. Peer power members help run and shape their group by talking about their interests and what they need to help them fulfill their goals. Together they plan for their future and what they want to do when they transition from high school into the adult world.

Peer Power enhances student knowledge, skills, and support that prepares students for adult life that includes employment, college, and/or independent community living. Peer Power helps students to transition successfully from high school through three main initiatives: Empowerment (self-determination and self-advocacy), building peer relationships and fostering mentoring relationships.

Self Determination and Self-Advocacy Training

Self-determination refers to one’s ability to make thoughtful decisions, problem-solve and effectively set and pursue goals. Peer Power provides the support and opportunities that allow students to increase their self-awareness and take an active role in shaping their future. Students learn how to participate in meetings that concern their education or career development and how to advocate for the things they need that can contribute to their success in their education and employment.

Peer Support and Peer Group Participation

Students form peer relationships and learn to work as a team, gain leadership skills and develop plans for the future. Peer Groups provide opportunities for self-discovery, allow students to make sense of new information, and receive support from others experiencing the same things. Together, peers face the challenges of transition and gain the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams.

One to One Mentoring

Matching students with mentors is a powerful way to build independent living skills, self-esteem and optimism for the future. Mentors with similar disabilities, hobbies, and/or common career interests make a valuable contribution by sharing their experience and support.

What made Peer Power Possible?

Peer Power is an expansion of a pilot that began in 2004 after U.S. Senator Herb Kohl ( paved the way to find funding from the Department of Education to help students with disabilities transition from high school. The pilots were so successful that Peer Power became a statewide initiative funded by the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and coordinated by the Independent Living Council of Wisconsin.

Organization Information

Logo: Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD)
BPDD’s mission is to help people with developmental disabilities become independent, productive, and included in all facets of community life. BPDD promotes positive change in service systems, fosters welcoming and inclusive communities and assists people with developmental disabilities and their families to become effective advocates.

ILCW Logo The Independent Living Council of Wisconsin (ILCW)
promotes self-determination and full inclusion of people with disabilities in Wisconsin. The Council supports the independent living philosophy and provides services to maximize the leadership, empowerment, and productivity of individuals with disabilities in order that each will live and participate in the community of their choice.

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