Project Search: New Pathways for Young Adults with Disabilities

Uploaded by VCU on 15.10.2012


Every day at every hospital in the country, there is so much work to be done.
Every room must be stocked with the essential items that ensure every patient has
what he or she needs to be comfortable, to recover in a clean environment,
and to ensure that every instrument used in the surgical process is perfectly sterile.
This is essential to the work of doctors, nurses and therapists.
It is the work of some capable and highly dedicated young people who are learning skills
and are headed toward a brighter future.
This is the work of Project Search.
Project Search is a one-year high school transition program that provides
skills training and internship opportunities for young adults with disabilities
between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two.
People like Ashley.
I love working here.
This is number one beautiful hospital in America.
So did you find the pillow cases?
Nurse Frances gave it to me.
As Ashley prepares a maternity room in a hospital with guidance from her Project Search instructor Jim Kiefer,
she is doing so with her entire routine memorized.
And the last thing on the list is the pink bedpan.
She knows what needs to be placed where.
She keeps a tight schedule whether it's making packets for new moms
or stocking supplies for patients in their rooms.
This high school student has already gained important work skills during her first internships.
Have you learned anything about yourself in doing the work here?
I learned how to be more mature and take more responsibility into my hands.
With Ashley, we noticed that she has a very outgoing personality, a good work ethic.
She tries her best.
And those are some qualities that we really look for in our students.
Ashley's work in Project Search is part of a collaborative effort to increase the employment outcomes
of youth with significant disabilities.
Project Search, originally founded by Erin Riehle at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital
blends the local resources of businesses, school systems and rehabilitation services
to create a win-win situation for all.
The program matches student strengths and interests to three internship opportunities in the business.
For Kyle, that means using his mathematical skills to ensure nurses have all the stocked items
next to the nursing station, ready at a moment's notice.
He's in charge of stocking all the patient supplies
so without him, the patients wouldn't have any supplies at all.
He definitely loves to be important.
It's very important to him that the work he's doing is important so he's definitely doing a good job.
And he's very mathematically minded so it's easy for him to count the inventory.
He really enjoys that type of work.
For Renal, that means ensuring surgical instruments are thoroughly cleaned before they're sterilized.
Damien now works in the main pharmacy where medications are placed and replaced before they expire.
Annie secured her job in the maternity ward where newborns and their parents
are ensured clean services wherever they go.
Chris didn't take long to catch on to his responsibilities as an intern.
His work and his capabilities earned him a job in the durable, medical equipment unit where
he thoroughly cleans the infant isolets and other medical equipment.
No concerns at all with Chris.
Chris caught on real fast. He's a quick learner.
We have good trainers here that worked with him diligently throughout his process in the beginning.
Chris was actually independently working on his own within two weeks.
His enthusiasm, his willingness to work.
He's on time.
Interested students like Annie and Chris completed an application and interviewed
for the program through their local school system.
The hospital can offer a student intern a job at any point during the school year
or upon graduation.
By doing this program, we hope that they get the job skills.
Things such as time management, staying on task, work pace, things of that nature.
That they can learn those skills and then we can apply it in a practical setting.
Why are we here?
To learn job skills!
Who are we?
Project Search interns!
World class!
The people who are guiding these students understand this is a tremendous opportunity
for the schools, the businesses, the students, and their families.
An opportunity to both develop valued work skills and to open doors for jobs in the community.
I think that it's sort of changed some attitudes about people who have significant disabilities, including myself.
I've been doing this for twenty years and some of the things that Renal is doing,
I didn't even expect him to be able to do and he fooled me in how quickly he learned
how to do some of the higher skilled things that are here.
Those kind of surprises are popping up in hospitals across Virginia.
Annie came in as an intern and surprised everyone with an extraordinary growth and maturity,
a sense of responsibility and an ability to, at long last, connect with people.
When Annie first came to us, she wouldn't speak to us.
She wouldn't look us in the eye.
And now she's playing with us.
She'll sing songs with us in the hallway.
She works alongside of us and will do extra things as we need her to.
So to see that progression in her has really just given the staff a sense of warmth and hope.
She's grown up so much.
She's taken on adulthood.
Which is tough for any young adult, whether they have disabilities or not.
She really has taken her life on and is working hard to be a good employee.
It's just very important to her.
A significant part of the success of Project Search is the training students receive.
Representatives of the local school system and job coaches work with the students
to ensure they understand their tasks and learn how to perform them with competence.
So I want you to pay attention to that word "solution".
It's in the skills steps for asking questions on the job sight, ok?
So when I look at a job, I dissect that job into small parts
and then I take pictures of those steps
and then use those pictures to train students.
I may keep the pictures on a sheet in front of them so they have a cheat sheet
so they can remember how to do things.
Eventually, what I do then as they learn is remove the pictures
or anything that they don't really need.
It was just a teaching tool at the time to help them.
The job coaches they have with this project are some of the finest people I have ever met.
As a parent of a young adult with a disability,
Tericia Levitt jumped at this chance for her daughter.
She understands all too well the reality of her daughter's opportunities.
There are so few opportunities available to young adults with disabilites
when they leave school.
It's an ugly world out there
and this was an opportunity that just looked too good to be true.
It has turned out to be absolutely, even more then what I thought it could be.
And with those opportunities in place, these students shine.
They do their jobs, often times with real precision, adding a new level of quality to hospital operations.
These students are eliminating long held stereotypes about people with disabilities
and instead opening the minds of their colleagues to their abilities.
It provides a sense of community to them.
They're able to surround someone who is able to help the team out.
We have a unique opportunity here to help these interns
learn job skills to develop to go out into the real world.
And I think they have a sense of pride in being able
to help impact them and train them before they go out into the real world.
Collaboration creates opportunities.
Graduates of Project Search are now contributors to our economy.
I think it definitely requires them to put a little effort into what they're doing and same thing for us.
We have a better training program. We spend more time with them.
And I think it's easier for them to transition into a full-time job.
So absolutely, it's a win for both of us.
Welcome to our second annual Project Search celebration and completion ceremony.
We're so thrilled to have all of you here in attendance.
This is most certainly the case with so many of these students and their families.
In a touching ceremony at one Project Search site, these young people are graduating from Project Search
with a light in their eyes and the kind of self-esteem that will move them forward
to greater opportunities.
The Project Search interns have been a wonderful part of our community this year.
They continued to help us learn and grow.
The impact they've made on our departments has really been immeasurable.
They bring a vitality, a commitment.
They're always willing to learn new things.
Thank you.
Thank you to the young people who are doing a tremendous service to the community.
You are the epitome, you are the ideal of what we want
to accomplish in our public schools.
So I thank you for the job that you are doing.
It is truly a job well done.
I learned how to challenge myself.
I learned different, new skills every day.
Too often we get trapped up in the disabilities and you underscore the fact that
if we focus on abilities, we're all better off for that.
For every one of these productive citizens,
our businesses improve their service.
The people around them see people with disabilties differently.
Our communities see their real value and the people who love them most,
at long last, can see a future for their son or their daughter.
This is an exceptional program and it's working.