Project SEARCH helps students with disabilities gain workforce skills

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - For those who have disabilities, there is a special program that aims to help them enter the workforce. Project Search teaches students various workforce, social skills, and fosters close connections.

“Plus she actually made me into a better man than what I am now,” Student Matt Kalson said. “Pretty much when I first started when I went with Michella I was like 'where is my image' and so then when I went with Michella and now I have my image.”

The ten interns are ages 18-21 and cycle through a number of jobs at CHI Health St. Francis and other organizations. They get a chance to cycle through jobs like custodial work, surgical assistance, and agriculture jobs.

“We've probably graduated over 60 students from this program and I see students all over town still working and working full time employment and they'll tell me it was because of project search,” Grand Island Senior High Special Education Coordinator Kris McMullen.

Michella Honas is a teacher with the program and says she sees a big change in confidence as the program goes on.

“Oh my gosh. I have seen amazing growth in all of them,” Honas said. “Some of them don't have great social skills or communication skills and they're very shy. This one intern, we put him in a department where he had to be forced to use his communication and social skills, the growth is amazing.”

Students made presentations to describe their strengths to show employers why they should be hired. Some are after medical jobs and others want to do something with their hands and project search helps them find the right path.

“I've been through some situations in the past,” Student Jaden Clare said. “So now that I am finally getting it all together I got to figure out what I want to do. What I know I am going on a great path where I can get an appropriate job and a right career.”

Applications for Project Search are up now and interviews for interns will take place in April for the next session. The information can be found on the Grand Island Public Schools' website.