Project SEARCH, a program that gives special teens job skills, has been a big success in Marshall County.

The program has been going for 4 years in the county. Marshall Medical has been a huge supporter, offering internships for the students in the program.

“We’ve placed quite a few students in jobs,” said Ann Kennamer of the program. The national average for special folks getting a job is 20 percent. Project SEARCH in Marshall County has a 93 percent placement rate.

To celebrate that success – and to kick off a new year with a new group of interns – Project SEARCH recently held a luau at Civitan Park for all participants and the families and the job coaches who help the students.

They cooked out, hula hooped, played cornhole and just enjoyed an afternoon.

The program has been compared to a “5th year of high school” with classroom work for the interns on job skills. Their classroom work for about 2 hours a day learning skills such as communication, teamwork, work ethics, and building self-confidence. They then work in the hospital as non-paid hospital employees for up to 3 ten-week rotations. They work in food service, housekeeping, maintenance and other areas of the hospital.

The hospital has hired several of the interns for its staff. Others have been placed in food service in local restaurants and in local retail establishments.

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