WAVE is a practical and empowering safety and self-defense program offered throughout the Philadelphia region.  We teach safety strategies that participants can use in situations ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault. 

WAVE classes emphasize awareness, trusting your instincts, boundary setting, verbal assertiveness, and easy-to-learn physical techniques. Our classes are participatory, energizing and confidence-building.

Upcoming Workshops

More 2018 classes will be announced in the coming months. Email wave@helpwomen.org or join WIT's mailing list to receive information about new classes!

New this fall! Our 5-session Girls Empowerment Self-Defense program, teaching emotional, verbal, and physical self-defense skills to girls ages 12-18. Click here to learn more and bring us out to your agency!

Empowerment Self-Defense

WAVE is based on the Empowerment Model of Self-­Defense.  We believe that people should have accurate information about gender-­based violence; that perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for violence; that people should decide what is best for them in any given situation, including the decision not to fight back; and that all of us are worth defending and have the right to do so.

Our Participants

Our students are primarily women, girls, transgender and gender non-­conforming individuals.  We strongly encourage people of all genders, skills, abilities, sizes and body types to participate in our classes.

What You Will Learn in a WAVE Class

You will learn a variety of options and techniques for staying safe including:

  • Prevention and awareness strategies to avoid and get away from unsafe situations

  • Assertiveness and verbal communication skills to help set boundaries and speak up for yourself and others

  • Powerful, easy-to-learn physical techniques to defend against assaults

Classes are interactive, participatory, and combine physical activities with interactive discussions, role plays, practice drills and reflection.

Class, Workshops and Fees

We offer programming to both individuals and groups.  In addition to our regularly scheduled classes open to the public, we offer safety and self-defense programs to corporations, schools, nonprofits and private groups.  These classes are customized to meet each organization’s needs.  Cost varies based on the length of the program.

Volunteer Opportunities

WAVE is looking for confident, caring and dedicated individuals to volunteer their time to teach our empowerment self-defense classes to individuals throughout the Philadelphia area.     

In order to be a WAVE instructor you must:

  • Be 18 or older

  • Have attended a WAVE class or workshop (or an equivalent self-defense workshop elsewhere)

  • Be able to commit to at least one class a month for 1 year

Selected participants will undergo a 6-9 hour Assistant Instructor training and evaluation process. New teachers start by assistant teaching in programs before becoming a lead teacher. 

Click here to access a full position description and the WAVE Volunteer Application Form. Feel free to contact us at wave@helpwomen.org for more information.  


For more information about WAVE, contact us at 215.564.5301 x 113 or wave@helpwomen.org.

  Seniors at Center in the Park pose for a picture after a WAVE workshop.

Seniors at Center in the Park pose for a picture after a WAVE workshop.