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Students with Special Needs Get Real World Experience

The process of finding a job can be difficult if you don’t have any work experience. For students with special needs, it may be even harder.

We’ve all heard the saying “practice makes perfect,” and that is just what a new program is offering to students with special needs.

At St. Mary’s Warrick Hospital in Boonville, Indiana, the Gibson-Warrick-Pike Special Education Cooperative and Southern Indiana Resource Solutions have come together to offer students with disabilities a chance to get real world job experience.

The hospital’s program, SEARCH, is based on a nationally recognized program that was started at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

The program offers internship experience to adults ages 18-21. The goal of these internships is to prepare these students for a full-time, real world job in the future.

The program offers students the chance to work in various areas of the hospital, learning about each department and gaining skills they can use in future jobs. The program runs for thirty weeks and is broken into ten week rotations.

Students have a daily agenda. This includes an hour of classroom instruction on employment and independent living skills, two hours of job rotations, lunch, another two hours of job rotations and one hour of classroom instruction. Topics can cover anything from personal hygiene to current events. Job coaches are provided throughout the day to offer guidance and assistance to the students.

Students get to be involved in many areas. They spend time working with medical records, environmental and custodial services, food and nutrition services, health information management, mail room and delivery, data entry and much more.

If the students spend the entire academic year in Project SEARCH, they receive a portfolio of their work experiences including pictures, recognitions and letters of recommendation that would be very useful for future employment.

The main goal of this program is to have the students build independent living skills. Organizers want to be a part of a team that builds those skills that will land these students better jobs when they graduate. By learning these necessary skills, students can work towards future jobs and goals with confidence.

Photo by tahitianlime

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