Helping High School Students Prepare For The Real World Through Project SEARCH
The Choice Group works collaboratively with DARS, local school districts, and area hospitals to provide students ages 18-22 with a unique post-secondary job-training experience. The end-goal of the program is quite simple… competitive employment in the community. Although the program was virtual at the start of COVID, Ericka Neville, manager of Hampton Roads, was able to re-open this past Spring while observing all COVID-19 guidelines.
Over the course of a typical school year, each participant is afforded the opportunity to complete three ten-week internships in a variety of settings across the hospital. By gaining these real-world work experiences and transferable skills, the interns are equipped with the tools necessary to be successful and valuable employees in a competitive job market. The goal for each high school student participant is competitive employment. To reach that goal, the program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with significant disabilities make successful transitions to a productive adult life.
The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills training, career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, skills trainers, and employers. These high school students must apply and be selected. The team at The Choice Group assesses their skills and determines what would be a good fit. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual [and developmental] disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex and rewarding jobs. In addition, the presence of a Project SEARCH program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes towards hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.
Project SEARCH is an international program offered at over 300 sites across North America, Australia, and Great Britain. The Choice Group currently provides employment services for several Project SEARCH sites in Virginia. To learn more about the Project SEARCH Transition Program, visit projectsearch.us. Please visit our website for location information.