Attacking the Ghosts of the Past with The Women’s Empowerment Program

Women’s Empowerment Program provides women affected by assault a chance to reclaim their security

By Sharon Chayra

Las Vegas Informer

When 20-something Sandra Smith* attended The Women’s Empowerment Program hosted by the non-profit Cultural Arts Training Foundation, she was spending more than a leisurely morning making new girlfriends. She was learning lifesaving, self-protection skills. Skills that she wishes she had years ago when she was sexually assaulted.

With an average crime rate of 37 per one thousand residents, Las Vegas has earned a dubious distinction of having one of the nation’s highest crime rates. The chances of being a victim are real, and while it’s not just women who are attacked, they remain the most vulnerable.

“The Cultural Arts Training Foundation’s focus has been self-empowerment, whether that’s providing bullied children ways to protect themselves against school yard bullies to women who’ve been victims of crime. Crimes that continue to take a toll long after they’ve occurred,” says Lance Parvin, Executive Director of the Foundation.

Parvin, a former law enforcement officer, also owns a for-profit enterprise Las Vegas Tactical Training on W. Sahara. There he trains executive protection, military operators, as well as the flight crews for national airlines. He’s so committed, however, to the self-empowerment programs that he’s largely funded the services.

“It’s important to put your money where your mouth is,” Parvin chuckles, “Thankfully we have a growing benefactor base from companies to individuals and for every dollar donated, we’re able to provide help for another formerly victimized individual. The Women’s Empowerment Program was recently offered free-of-charge to clients of The Rape Crisis Center.

The Program’s curriculum is heavily influenced by various martial arts as well as practical and natural movements that will neutralize an attacker if need be. “These are not casual moves; they are techniques designed to save your life even if someone twice your size is trying to rob or rape you,” says Parvin. The aspects cover empty hand, weapons, and ground attacks and were developed by Parvin during his many years in law enforcement. He followed up the Saturday class with a concealed weapons class for those interested in their CCWs.

For Smith it has made all the difference in reclaiming a sense of security and preparedness should she ever be faced with a similar scenario. “I’m really grateful for what I learned today. I hope I never need to use it, but now I know that I’ll be prepared.”

The Cultural Arts Foundation also offers anti-bullying as well as Veteran’s support services at no-cost. For more information on either the Foundation or Las Vegas Tactical, visit or


SC-1_030edited copySharon Chayra 

Sharon Chayra is an award-winning writer and president of a medical marketing firm based in Las Vegas. A traveler of life, Chayra integrates her science background with spirituality resulting in common sense observations to others on their life’s journey. Given her heritage of Apache and Scottish, she is a born storyteller and documents experiences about personal growth, culture, laughter and health into the written and visual word.

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