Positive Connections: Program helps Wichita students with disabilities find jobs

Positive Connections

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – The national organization, Project SEARCH, is helping Sedgwick County young adults with disabilities gain and maintain employment.

Project SEARCH students participate in 10-week internships at participating businesses. They are matched to specific jobs based on their skills and previous work history.

Project SEARCH intern John Huslig cleans an exhibit at Exploration Place.

John Huslig, 21, interns at Exploration Place where he does janitorial and housekeeping duties. KSN News went along with him on his first day.

“I like it here. It’s a fun place,” said Huslig.

“This is a great position for John because it’s really a big place. He has to learn many different skills in different areas and different types of solutions to use for cleaning different services, plus it’s a very social environment which is really good for John. That’s where he really flourishes,” said Project SEARCH Instructor Chris Nichols.

Huslig spent the majority of his day touring and cleaning the many exhibits Exploration Place has to offer.

He laughed and told KSN, “I like cleaning sometimes.”

The ultimate goal is for the students like John to find full-time employment following the graduation of the program.

“I think they all have the capability to be tax payers, to be among the community and to serve other people in the community,” Nichols said.

Project SEARCH graduate Ashlea Thompson talks about her work experience after the program.

Ashlea Thompson is a former Project SEARCH participant. She is nearing her sixth work anniversary with the Sedgwick County Treasurer’s Office.

She said she still remembers when she was hired after her internship.

“They are so happy for me, and I hope I would do amazing at my job,” said Thompson.

Thompson’s supervisors were extremely complimentary, adding she is punctual, a hard worker and she is always willing to learn new skills.

“I like to be there on time, and I like to be dependable, organized, respectful, and responsible,” Thompson explained.

For the first time, Project SEARCH is hosting a reverse job fair in the months of April and May. Each intern has created a video resume showcasing their skills in action as well as interviews with their supervisors. The ultimate goal is to find long-term and full-time employment.

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