Project SEARCH first graduating class gears up for big day

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Project SEARCH provides adults with disabilities a chance to gain real life work experience, eventually helping them find a job. The first graduating class of interns is gearing up for the big day this fall.

“Doing the job and helping people out,” says Project SEARCH intern Michael Kelly.

It's as simple as that for Kelly. She is one of 7 members part of the program preparing for graduation. After 9 months, spent working 5 days a week, Kelly says she's ready.

Kelly says, "I'm looking forward to getting a job and getting hired."

Adults with developmental disabilities have a chance to learn everything from dress codes to work culture along with various job skills through the internship.

The experience has helped Carly Snidow get out of her comfort zone, which she hopes will help her get hired at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

“To me I feel like I'm myself and the challenges I face is not being so shy,” says Snidow.

Not all the interns will have jobs lined up right away.

"Those who are unable to be hired by the hospital have great looking resumes to offer other employers in the community,” says Executive Director of the Cerebral Palsy Center, Bob Sexton.

It's a program working to diversify the work force and help more people.

Sexton says, “We're also looking forward to making this opportunity available to a whole new class of young people with developmental disabilities.

The program is allowing some to live out their dreams.

“I have a good life to be able to do anything I can do for anyone especially for kids who need it,” says Snidow.

Each intern has to complete 3 different rotations to graduate from the job skills training in each department. Fifteen different departments are involved.

The Project SEARCH graduation is scheduled for November 18th at 6pm at East Tennessee Children's Hospital.

The next class will start February 2, 2015.

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