Recently, six very dedicated students became only the second class to graduate from Clark County's Project Search program. The program's graduates are all developmentally disabled students who have successfully completed a school-to-work program.
The Clark County Board of Developmental Disabilities started Project Search to help high school students with developmental disabilities receive a combination of job training and independent living skills to help them transition from school into adult life.
Jenny Rousculp serves as the board's superintendent, she says this year's class was impressive.
"This is our second year doing this, so this is our second graduating class. And of those individuals that graduated this year, five of the six actually have employment after school. So we are really excited about that and that really is the purpose is to help students get prepared for jobs, understand the needs of being on time, being ready for work and learning the skills and working with others. And this class that we had this year just certainly exemplified all of those elements," Rousculp said.
Rousculp explained that in Clark County, students work as unpaid interns at Springfield Regional Medical Center and learn a variety of skills from teamwork and safety, to specific job-related tasks.
"These young students in their last year of school have the opportunity to work at the hospital as interns. And they learn from their experiences going from the different areas such as food service, cleaning of medical instruments,to laundry, to helping in janitorial. Different areas for a certain period of time in each one of those areas.Through that experience it helps them become ready for employment," Rousculp said.
Program Search was started in 1995 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. There are now over 300 sites in the country with 30 of them in Ohio. Rousculp feels that the hospital staff benefits from working with the students.
"We're changing lives in regards to the hospital staff as well. For them to be able to have a one-on-one interaction with a young person with disabilities and to establish not only a relationship but friendships has gone a long way in breaking barriers and stereotypes," Rousculp said.
Joel Kunce, Alyson Hawkins, Brandon Wilson, Curtis Lininger, Jordan Lyons and Sierra Frost made up this year's Project Search graduation class.