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Project SEARCH

Pause and imagine what could happen if a school district and hospital collaborate to create a business-led, one-year, school-to-work program for students with disabilities.

"One of our on-going challenges is to ensure that our students with disabilities make a smooth transition to life after high school," said Dr. Atwater, KPBSD superintendent. "Project SEARCH is thus, a wonderful way to help us meet this challenge."

On Monday, October 28, 2013, more than 50 community members, school district personnel, families, and future interns attended the second annual Kenai Peninsula Project SEARCH open house at Central Peninsula Hospital to discover and learn about this valuable program in its second year, with four interns. In addition to their nearly five hours of work per day at Central Peninsula Hospital, each of the four interns spent weeks during their morning class time creating a resume, display board, and PowerPoint presentation to share their successes, hopes and dreams with the community at the open house. Project SEARCH is a high school transition program for students (interns) with disabilities. The goal is for interns to learn marketable job skills to compete for jobs within our community. "Some students with disabilities need an extra year to focus on skills for employment. Kenai Peninsula Project SEARCH provides that focus by fully immersing them into a business environment," said KPBSD program coordinator Denise Kelly. Last year's three interns are all currently employed, two at Fred Meyer and one at Central Peninsula Hospital. That's a 100% success rate in the first year! "We are looking forward to the same success for this year," said Kelly.

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, and can accommodate up to ten students. 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.

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.

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