Project SEARCH continues to help students with disabilities

Published 11:47 am Monday, January 9, 2017

Shelby County students with disabilities have the opportunity to receive career training. According to Project SEARCH teacher Blake Huynh, this is a collaborative effort between Project SEARCH, the Arc of Shelby County, Shelby County Schools, Alabaster City Schools and Pelham City Schools.

“Our kids with disabilities get to intern. It’s kind of like a job college,” Huynh said. “We can help students develop life skills, job skills and social skills.”

Huynh said the program is for high school seniors with disabilities who have all the necessary class credits and haven’t yet graduated.

At the Shelby Baptist Medical Center, internships are given based on a student’s interest in certain areas of work.

“We find their internships based on what they say they want to do,” Huynh said.

Huynh said several interns are learning about hospital management. Others are helping to prepare and serve food in the hospital’s cafeteria.

Interns are also learning about housekeeping, transporting patients and patient care.

“They’re treated just like an employee,” Huynh said. “Each intern has a supervisor and abides by the code of conduct.”

According to Huynh, the Arc of Shelby County has provided a full-time job coach and a part-time job coach.

Huynh said students begin searching for jobs in March, and have the option to graduate early once they have a job lined up.

“We continue to follow them, even along after they graduate, and give them support,” Huynh said.

Project SEARCH started at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center in 1996, and has been at the Shelby Baptist Medical Center for five years. Huynh said the program is beneficial for both students and employers, and fills many job positions with high turnover rates.

“It serves a big need for a lot of employers. No matter the level of the intern, anything is possible with the right support system,” Huynh said. “[Shelby Baptist Medical Center] has hired a few interns, and some of them are their best employees,” Huynh said.

For more information about Project Search at Shelby Baptist Medical Center, email Huynh at