The Project Search Program started at the University of Platteville-Wisconsin in 2018. “Project Search is a dedicated program focused on providing education and training to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities” according to the Project Search website. The original Project Search site is in Cincinnati, OH, and there are over two hundred sites across the United States and Canada, England, Scotland, and Australia.
I was able to attend a Project Search visit day on December 8th. When I was there, I interviewed Tom Abell, who is an intern at the program. Tom is also a 2021 Potosi High School graduate. UWP currently has seven interns. The seven interns have three job rotations throughout the year. The interns at Project Search also discuss basic life skills while learning what is expected from them at a job.
Tom’s day starts at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 2:15 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tom states, “at Project Search, I have met different and new people, but I do not see any graduates of Potosi on campus.” On certain days during their rotations, the staff works with the interns in a classroom setting to teach them work skills and build their confidence. Tom says that they learn about building self-advocacy, and employability, as well as team-building activities. The interns are transported to Project Search in a couple of ways. The school district that each intern is from is required to provide transportation for that intern. Some districts carpool with other people or other schools to help cover the expenses and travel time of the transporter.
Tom Abell has different kinds of jobs on campus like dining services, picking up plates, wiping down tables, breaking down cardboard boxes, and recycling. Tom is currently in his second rotation job. His job duties are to help in the Student Services Center, and help different offices clean, shred papers, and make sure the motorized scooter is charged for students who need it.
Tom states, “I enjoy going to Project Search because I like all the kids in my class. I also like to be at a college, and UWP is a nice campus to be a part of. I like the teachers at Project Search and I have fun while I am there. Sometimes we get to do fun activities in class like watch a movie if we get all of our stuff done.”
Project Search is a great program to have for students that want to go into the workforce. When they get done at Project Search they will have the skill and experience they need to be successful in their careers.