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Education and Employment

Project SEARCH helps adults with disabilities develop job skills

Cate Alix delivering her speech
Cate Alix delivering her speech at the May 29 special bridge ceremony for Project SEARCH with fellow interns Justin Thorn and Marcus Apter. Photo: UConn Health/ Lauren Woods

For young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, finding a job can be challenging. And It’s tough to learn the social skills needed in a work setting in a classroom. That’s why the Project SEARCH program at UConn in Farmington exists.

The Project SEARCH internship program first launched at UConn Health in 2015 as the first of its kind in the state. It is in partnership with Favarh – The Arc of the Farmington Valley. UConn Health’s annual internship program has a 94% placement rate of interns into employment and has trained more than 25 interns since its start.

“We have learned so much in the past year and it was great to be here,” said Apter, a graduating intern from West Hartford, in his speech at the program’s special bridge ceremony. “Project SEARCH has been very productive by teaching us the skills we need to be independently employed. It has felt great to be part of this program.”

“We learned a lot of important skills while working in these departments. We learned about the importance of proper interaction with patients, staff and visitors. Our mentors helped us improve our people skills. The most important skill that our mentors helped us learn was how to advocate for what we need.” said Harwinton.