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Membbers of the Project Search intership program during a recent graduation

New Project Search Internship Program at Waterbury Hospital

WATERBURY, Conn.—Local young adults with disabilities may now gain real-life work experiences at Waterbury Hospital, thanks to a 10-month internship program that will launch this fall through the hospital and Ability Beyond.

“We are excited to embark on this journey with partners who actively and deeply share our vision for a more inclusive world,” said Kate Travis, Services Director at Ability Beyond. “Together, we will help young adults with disabilities overcome barriers and achieve their career goals with independence and dignity.”

The program, which follows the internationally recognized Project SEARCH model, combines immersive workplace training with wraparound employment support designed to place graduates in competitive jobs at living wages.

“The ultimate goal is for each intern to secure competitive employment within their community,” Travis said. “We leverage our expertise and legacy of successful job placements alongside the skills each intern gains through the program to make that goal a reality.”

The Waterbury Hospital program will run the course of a school year, with interns participating five days a week to complete a total of three job rotations.

The rotations span different areas of the hospital, so interns can learn unique lessons and transferable skills. For instance, they may work in environmental services, the maternity ward, the emergency department, food services, patient transport, or ambulatory surgery.

During soft-skill classes, students will also learn about such topics as self-advocacy, financial literacy, health and wellness, and technology.

“By fostering an environment where individuals of all abilities can thrive, we're not only enhancing the lives of the participants but also enriching our community and strengthening our workforce,” Travis said.

She added: “This model is effective because it is built on the foundation of a strong partnership.”

The first Project SEARCH program at Ability Beyond began in 2017 in New York and has since expanded into Connecticut with offerings at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals. Our partners include Nuvance Health, Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, and Connecticut Aging and Disability Services.

Project SEARCH began in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and now has over 740 sites throughout the world.

“We are pleased to partner with Ability Beyond to help differently abled young adults overcome barriers and learn skills to make their career goals a reality. Waterbury Hospital has a long history of supporting the community through career and job development programs. This is another great addition to those initiatives and an important program for our community,” said Waterbury HEALTH President and CEO Deborah Weymouth.