The fifth year of Project SEARCH is in the books! Twelve interns recently graduated from this program, which is facilitated each year by Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS). Friends and family attended the ceremony on June 1 at Johnson County Community College. Photos from the event are below.
Johnson County Project SEARCH is an education and employment program for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 18 years of age or older who are interested in community employment. Interns spend nine months immersed in a host business site completing three unpaid internship rotations designed to teach them marketable, transferable work skills. The goal of the program is paid employment for each intern, from 16 to 40 hours per week in a competitive, integrated setting earning prevailing wage or higher. In the first year, 100% of Project SEARCH graduates secured a job.
"The Project SEARCH graduation is a time to celebrate the hard work of the men and women who have committed their time, effort and talents to this program during the past nine months," said Melissa Reeves, Community Relations Manager for JCDS. "Seeing county staff, elected officials, families, and community partners all come together to usher these graduates into the next stage of their professional development is a joy to experience. We look forward to this event each year, and we are so proud of this graduating class."
Tyler Smith, a Project SEARCH graduate from the first class (2014/2015), served as keynote speaker. He talked about being independent; he has a job and a car, and the day before the graduation had moved into his own apartment. Other speakers were Johnson County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Ed Eilert, JCDS Board Chairman Dale Chaffin, and Rhonda Case, owner of the Sunflower Cafe in Olathe who utilizes Project SEARCH interns and employs a graduate from the program.