Project SEARCH holds meet and greet for disability employment awareness

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) In celebration of National Disability Employment Month Project SEARCH held a meet and greet at The Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Project SEARCH is an international school-to-work transition program that is focused on preparing young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for competitive employment. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)

Project SEARCH is an international school-to-work transition program that is focused on preparing young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for competitive employment.

The program takes place during an additional 5th year of high school and focuses on real-life work experience and 'employability' training.

Project SEARCH has been running at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for 9 years. 5 to 9 interns are employed every year for the program. Last year the program had a 100 percent success rate for full time employment offers after the internship.

Lisa Laqua explained more about the employment situation for individuals with disabilities.

"So when you look at the status of employment in the state of Alaska for individuals with disabilities, we've previously been ranked 4th in the nation. So that was a great status for us. But within the last year, we've dropped all the way to twelfth. So that shows us that we're losing those individuals in the employment status. So this program is helping to turn that number around. And our goal is that by graduation on May 15th of next year, we have all of our interns in competitive, integrated employment situations," said Laqua.

For anybody interested and eligible for Project SEARCH, more information can be found at http://dhss.alaska.gov/gcdse/Pages/committees/et/SEARCH.aspx.

Applications open in January for the hiring process.

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