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Special education students working for competitive employment

BATH, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The Greater Southern Tier BOCES in Painted Post and Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital in Bath have teamed up to give special education students a chance for competitive employment. 

Project SEARCH is a program available internationally and for the first time ever, GST BOCES is offering it. On Thursday morning, the school recognized nine hardworking special education students, with hopes of working in a professional setting, for their acceptance.

It's a unique yearlong school-to-work transition program. 

"It gives students a project-based learning opportunity to become trained workers in a setting outside of the normal school setting, so this program encompasses both academic and internship work," BOCES District Superintendent James Frame said. 

Speakers on Thursday called it a game-changer because students won't just be learning from teachers they're used to, but professionals in healthcare who will show them a different side of education. 

These interns are pioneers, and they'll be setting the bar for the following group next year.  

When the year is up, the goal is to be in competitive employment, meaning 16 or more hours a week and earning a competitive wage in an inclusive setting with people that do and do not have disabilities. 

"Next week, I am studying to be a medical records person," Project SEARCH Intern Alyssa Card said. 

"I'm going to be an activity aid at the nursing home," Joseph Moreno, another intern, said. "I really like to work with other people and I'm really sociable with people."

And when asked why he was interested in the program, Brad Farr said... "To get job experience, so I could get a better paying job."

Hospital representatives are looking forward to potentially hiring the students at the close of the program.

"Healthcare's changing, so we have to look at different programs and services to meet the community," Richard Cleland, site administrator at Ira Davenport, said. "It's all about meeting the community needs. It's important to be able to help people and develop job skills."

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