Program helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition to work
Prisma Health–Midlands, District 5 of Lexington and Richland counties and SC Vocational Rehabilitation have collaborated since 2015 to bring Project SEARCH to teens in the Midlands with special needs. Project SEARCH is a business-led school-to-work transition model with demonstrated success in developing internships for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in their last year of high school.
Five students will participate in Project SEARCH graduation tomorrow, Friday, May 31. Friday’s graduation is a culmination of the students’ work as they transition to find employment. Since this partnership started in 2015, 23 interns have completed the program and six of them still work at Prisma Health. One of this year’s class also has been hired by Prisma Health and all of the others also have been employed.
The program helps lead the interns into integrated and competitive employment with prevailing wages. Interns from the school district were carefully selected after a thorough interview process. The program is targeted to students whose main goal is competitive employment. The interns attend the program for the full school year at Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital where they will learn about a multitude of jobs at the hospital. The interns are assisted and taught by job coaches from District 5 of Lexington and Richland counties and SC Vocational Rehabilitation.
Kathryn Harris, Experience/Operations business manager at Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital, said “Our goal is employment whether that’s within Prisma Health or the community. We are providing a real work setting for these students-training and coaching them along the way. When they exit our program they are confident and ready to work. I am amazed each year by their individual progress. I am proud and honored to be a part of this program!”
Places of employment include not only Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital, but Longhorn and the Hyatt Hotel. The Hyatt is employing three students graduating this year from the program. “In fact, the manager of the Hyatt Hotel watched last years’ class video and he made a phone call this April. He was so moved by the video that he wanted to be a part of this program. He offered to host a tour for the interns and that day hired three of them on the spot,” Harris said.
WHEN: Friday, May 31
TIME: 9–10 a.m.
Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge Hospital
Birch and Cedar classrooms, first floor
400 Palmetto Health Pkwy.
Columbia, SC 29212
Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and hands-on training through worksite rotations. South Carolinians with intellectual and developmental disabilities continue to experience higher unemployment rates than South Carolinians who do not have disabilities. Parents of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities also report that the transition from high school to a career is a particularly difficult, involved and confusing process. Project SEARCH aims to ease the transition for interns and their families.