Friday, May 17, 2013

Good News Friday!

Next Wednesday, an ambitious group of young Imagine! clients will be part of a graduation class from Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department’s collaboration with Project SEARCH.

The purpose of this collaboration is to provide opportunities for local high school students with developmental disabilities to develop the skills and tools they need for lasting employment.

According to the Project SEARCH website, The Project SEARCH High School Transition Program is a unique, business-led, one-year, school-to-work program that takes place entirely at the workplace. Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training through strategically designed internships.

The goal for each student participant in this international program is competitive employment. The program provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent living skills to help youths with significant disabilities make successful transitions from school to productive adult life. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from teachers, job coaches, and employers. As a result, at the completion of the training program, students with significant intellectual disabilities are employed in nontraditional, complex, and rewarding jobs. The presence of a Project SEARCH High School Transition Program can bring about long-term changes in business culture that have far-reaching positive effects on attitudes about hiring people with disabilities and the range of jobs in which they can be successful.

At the beginning of this school year, CORE/labor Source was able to facilitate six interns participating in the program. But such an ambitious undertaking can’t be done alone. Multiple agencies and organizations have come together to make this a reality. CORE/Labor Source’s partners in Project SEARCH include Boulder Community Hospital, the Boulder Valley School District, the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Community Link, the Association of Community Living, and other Imagine! service departments. Additionally, an advisory board has been assembled to assist with networking opportunities for the interns.

A classroom has been set up at the Boulder Community Hospital Mapleton campus. This serves as the meeting place and launching point for the students in the morning. Their day typically begins with one hour of classroom instruction, and then they work with job coaches from CORE/Labor Source to learn their jobs thoroughly and to receive professional training and guidance. As time goes on, the job coaches are phased out of the picture as the interns develop the skills to complete their job duties independently.

Congratulations to the graduates, and thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to make this project a success!

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