Project SEARCH finds jobs for young adults with disabilities

Olivia is a Project SEARCH graduateOn Tuesday, October 9, 2012, the Secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development presented Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin with a Proclamation commending the work we did together to create a new Project SEARCH program in Milwaukee County. The Project SEARCH page on our web site explains:

Project SEARCH is a new program partnering Easter Seals with Children’s Hospital to offer a year long classroom and work experience for young adults beginning their senior year of high school. Easter Seals provides job coaching in rotating job internship opportunities at Children’s Hospital. The goal is for these young adults to learn skills that can transition to community-based employment.

In addition to the job skills learned in the internship, the classroom curriculum includes learning about appropriate interpersonal skills with supervisors and co workers, resume writing, job searching, how to apply for a job and how to understand what employers are looking for, understanding company policies and attendance, honesty and appropriate dress codes for your job. Other internship opportunities in the program at Children’s Hospital also include the Histology Lab, Pharmacy, Distribution Services, Imaging, and Neuroscience Clinic.

We started our first Project SEARCH class at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin last year. Six interns learned how to handle the hard skills of their jobs and the soft skills, too: things like how to engage their co-workers, learn workplace etiquette and how to compose professional emails. Those first six interns are now making their way in the world. Five interns have found community employment and the sixth has continued her education to build her skills.

Two interns from our inaugural class, Olivia and Marcus who both work at Children’s Hospital, spoke at the ceremony last week. I met both of them early in their internships last year. They were nervous and self-conscious then, but last week they spoke with confidence in front of 25 people about their year at Project SEARCH. Olivia and Marcus said it was one of the most important years of their young lives. Watching them made me feel like a proud father seeing his children spread their wings.

As the Secretary commended our partnership and program, I looked at our new interns, a full class of 12 young adults. They have started their first rotations, working the welcome center, catering, working at the genetics clinic. Each one was smiling, so proud. As I was given the Proclamation, I could only think of the very special staff that worked so hard to create the partnerships and make our first year so successful. The unsung heroes of Easter Seals Southeast Wisconsin: Michelle Schaefer, Beth Lohmann, Suzie Feider-Kelly and Gloria McCullough. I am proud to sing their praises.

Watch a video of the proud graduates of our first Project SEARCH class and read a feature story about Olivia on our web site to learn more about the job she has now as a result of Project SEARCH.


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