Internships prepare kids with disabilities for success

INDIANAPOLIS - A program in the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township is making a difference for students with developmental disabilities.

Anyone who has been to Community Hospital North has probably seen students like 19-year-old James Horn stocking rooms, cleaning equipment and working side by side with nurses.

Horn can help out thanks to a program known as Project SEARCH. It pulls 18-year-old students living with a disability out of the classroom and sets them up with a yearlong internship.

In 2014, more than a dozen Lawrence Township students have taken part in the program and they have all worked behind the scenes at Community North.

Lawrence Central High School student Desean Mills, who dreams of owning a catering business someday, has learned to clean, sweep and prepare the food in the cafeteria.

Sara Boyd, a Lawrence Central graduate, keeps things in order in the maternity ward -- but not as an intern. She is now an employee of Community North -- a success story of Project SEARCH.

The majority of the kids will be hired by the hospital right out of high school -- an alternative to college that Horn hopes will work out for him.

"I really want to work here for a very long time. I want to get hired here," Horn said.

Project SEARCH is not just for Lawrence Township students. Students with disabilities who go to Indianapolis Public Schools have a chance to intern and eventually work at Community East Hospital. Students at Ben Davis High School and Avon High School are linked up with the government center downtown.

The internships are made possible by a partnership with not only Community Health Network and Lawrence Township schools, but also with Easter Seals Crossroads, Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Services and The Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.

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