JONESBORO, Ark. (Oct. 9, 2017) -- Today, St. Bernards Medical Center hosted a Community Kick-Off event and ribbon cutting for the Project SEARCH® program, which trains young adults with developmental disabilities for jobs in the workforce that pay competitive wages.
St. Bernards is the first site in eastern Arkansas to host Project SEARCH, which began as a partnership between ACCESS, a Little Rock-based organization, and Arkansas Rehabilitative Services (ARS), a division of the Department of Career Education.
Project SEARCH provides a nine-month vocational training program designed to lead to competitive, integrated employment outcomes for young adults with developmental disabilities. Eight interns at St. Bernards work in departments including Central Supply, Laundry, Nursing, Dietary Services and Health & Wellness. In each of these areas, interns are learning processes and marketable work skills, moving them toward gainful employment.
During the Community Kick-Off event, two Project SEARCH interns spoke about their experiences in the program, and community leaders spoke about the important role Project SEARCH plays in Northeast Arkansas.
“We were very excited to bring Project SEARCH to St. Bernards and our local community. This excitement has increased tenfold since the interns have started working on our campus,” said Chris Barber, President and CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare. “We have found each of these individuals to be hard-working, knowledgeable and eager to learn. We’ve heard wonderful things from both our patients and employees, who see all the benefits Project SEARCH provides our organization.”
Jenny Adams, Director of Project SEARCH Arkansas: ACCESS Initiative, also spoke at the event.
“The Project SEARCH Arkansas: ACCESS Initiative fits perfectly with the ACCESS mission to expand individual potential through innovative instruction,” she said. “We are so excited to be working with St. Bernards and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services to bring this unique, on-the-job training program to eastern Arkansas. The St. Bernards Project SEARCH program offers Arkansans with developmental disabilities an opportunity like no other to develop the skills needed for meaningful work and all of the personal benefits that come with it.”
Project SEARCH International was founded in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has grown to more than 400 sites across 44 states and six countries.
“The Project SEARCH collaboration with ACCESS and St. Bernards builds on the work of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services to prepare Arkansans with disabilities to work and lead productive and independent lives,” said D. Alan McClain, commissioner for Arkansas Rehabilitation Services division. “We are pleased to see this project officially launch at St. Bernards, and we look forward to offering the support that will ensure success for the interns.”
St. Bernards is a 438-bed acute care hospital that serves as a regional referral center for 23 counties in Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri. It is the only Level III Trauma Center in the region, houses the only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the eastern part of Arkansas and has served as the trusted provider of comprehensive, compassionate healthcare services for 117 years. For more information, please visit stbernards.info or call the St. Bernards Healthline at 870.207.7300.
ACCESS is a 501c3 nonprofit offering evaluation services, full-time education, therapy, training and activities for individuals with disabilities. Founded in 1994, the center comprises ACCESS Early Childhood Program, ACCESS Academy, ACCESS Therapy, ACCESS Academic Therapy (specialized tutoring), ACCESS Life, Project SEARCH® and the ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center. ACCESS is located at 10618 Breckenridge Drive in Little Rock, Arkansas. Visit AccessGroupInc.org for more information.
Arkansas Rehabilitation Services is a division of the Arkansas Department of Career Education. A network of 19 field offices serves individuals with disabilities in all 75 counties, as mandated by federal legislation. ARS also operates the Arkansas Career Training Institute (ACTI), which is a comprehensive rehabilitation center, one of eight in the United States and the only one west of the Mississippi. ACTI is a residential facility that provides education and training, as well as medical services and other supports, to individuals with disabilities. The services that individuals with disabilities can receive through ARS include career counseling, assessment, postsecondary education, career and technical education, training and medical services if it is determined that medical services will help a client find employment. Clients may also receive support services such as assistive technology, job placement services, employability skills instruction and coaching and life skills instruction. High school students with disabilities are provided transition services to help them move successfully from high school to further education and training or jobs. For more information, visit the website at www.ace.arkansas.gov and click on the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services tab.