Project SEARCH held its third community open house September 29th at Central Peninsula Hospital (CPH.) The event allowed this year’s interns to showcase their accomplishments. Project SEARCH shows what takes place when a school district and hospital collaborate to create a business-led, one-year school-to-work program for students with disabilities,” wrote Pegge Erkeneff, communications specialist for the Kenai Peninsula School District (KPBSD.) Project SEARCH creator Erin Reilly introduced the program to Alaska three years ago and the success achieved has surpassed expectations according to Fran Stetson of the KPBSD, “The students that have come through the program are exceptional at the end. The hospital creates an environment where these students have to step up to meet high expectations and they do it, employers will be lucky to get them because these guys know how to work,” she told the Dispatch. Dr. Steve Atwater, KPBSD superintendent said, “One of our on-going challenges is to ensure that our students with disabilities make a smooth transition to life after high school. Project SEARCH is thus, a wonderful way to help us meet this challenge.”
The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a total workplace immersion, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships. Through a series of three targeted internships the students acquire competitive, marketable, and transferable skills. Students also build communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills which is important to their overall development as a young worker. The goal: independent adults prepared for competitive employment opportunities. “We’ve helped turn these young people into productive citizens and realize their full potential,” commented John Todd of CPH. “Here at the hospital we are all about providing opportunities for folks to be workers in our community. We have some great success stories that have gone from interns to employees here at CPH,” he said.
Kenai Peninsula Project SEARCH is made possible through the collaborative efforts of Project SEARCH Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Central Peninsula Hospital, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Frontier Community Services.