Students with disabilities have the chance to learn real life skills and find a job through the UPMC Project SEARCH program. In fact, 41 students have already graduated over the years.
Friday, they celebrated their fifth graduating class. This is a unique one-year school to work program that takes place in the Hamot workplace. Today, several students were able to graduate.
This is seen as a 13th year of high school for the Millcreek Township School District students. All the students this year have gotten jobs based on the skills they learned from the program.
“So, they come in here and do three internships throughout the year and that gives them 10 to 12 weeks to learn the jobs more slowly than it would take someone else. At the end of the day, they can do anything any other employee can do.” said Carol Hirsch, instructor
The goal is to get them competitive wages so they can support themselves. Hirsch says, too often, people are caught up with seeing their disability instead of their ability.
“They are a very vital part of the workforce. These are kids that can absolutely positively can work.” Hirsch said.
“I’ve never thought this would ever happen. I am so excited to be part of this.” said Michael Lenc, graduate.
Michael said he works in a pharmacy.
“I actually fed the robots, and I tear the pills one by one into the robot and I have to put them into trays and carts.” Lenc said.
This year, 90% of the students will be retained as UPMC Hamot employees.