Celebrating This Year’s Project SEARCH Graduates

I had the honor of speaking at the Project SEARCH graduation held on the campus of AHN St. Vincent Hospital this week. 

 Local sponsors of Project SEARCH include AHN St. Vincent Hospital, the Erie School District, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and Erie County Department of Human Services, and the Barber National Institute.   

Project SEARCH began over 27 years ago at Children’s Hospital in Cincinatti. It was designed to assist students with disabilities in their final year of school in making the transition to work.  Students attend the program for a full school year at the host business (AHN St Vincent) where they become familiar with the culture of the organization, the various job opportunities available and work as as a contributing team member. Students receive hands on training through worksite rotations, supportive job coaching and individualized career exploration.  Through this training they are able to build their communication, problem solving, technology and team building skills which will assist them in securing employment upon graduation.  

Project SEARCH is definitely a win for employers as well. They can achieve a diverse and inclusive work culture where people of different backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas are given the opportunity to learn and grow within their career path.  Much has been written about the many, many benefits of employing persons with disabilities. We do know that organizations whose workforce reflects the diversity within their community are resilient, innovative and adaptable.   

It was great to have one of own preschool graduates, Averi, who also graduated from Project SEARCH.

When Dr. Barber established the Barber Center over 70 years ago, it was with the goal that all children and adults with disabilities would become active participants in their community. It was a dream at that time.  Today, Project SEARCH makes that a reality.  

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