Aadil Bacchus is a 20-year old Olympia High School graduate not unlike his peers. Now that he’s done high school, he’s ready to set out into the world and start living his life. But unlike many of his fellow graduates, Aadil has a physical disability that closes many doors of opportunity and makes navigating the world on his own a tough proposition.
Growing Opportunity – Quest: Project Search
Thanks to Project SEARCH, some of those doors are now opening. Created by Quest Inc., Project SEARCH is a one-year training program that provides employment opportunities to high school students with disabilities.
“In collaborative partnership with AdventHealth and Orange County Public Schools, students are assigned an employment specialist who helps them develop sills and resumes, and then shadows them when they start their internship,” says Sue Koziol, Quest’s Vice President Vocational and Business Services.
Project SEARCH gives high school grads with disabilities the chance to learn new work skills and begin fulfilling careers.
Over the course of one year, students participate in a series of 9-week internships within AdventHealth, including stints in Nutritional Services, Transportation and the Gift Shop. “At the end of the program they have picked up skills and possibly an employment opportunity,” Sue says.
In the four years since AdventHealth has partnered with Project SEARCH, more than 150 interns have gone through the program with 100% employment placement either within AdventHealth or at another Quest employment partner.
Aadil finished the program with a 9-week rotation in AdventHealth Winter Park’s Transportation Department, a job he loved. “Moving into transportation was very interesting because it gave me an opportunity to learn how to help patients. I like to interact with people,” says Aadil, who gladly accepted an offer of employment on the team. “The people in transportation helped me see I could believe in myself and they helped me learn new things.”
“I have been doing volunteer services for 20 yeas and this program has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” says Dotty McFarlane, Manager of Volunteer Services at AdventHealth Winter Park. “When these kids come here and feel accepted a whole world opens up to them. They never thought they could get a job. This program gives them a purpose in life and an independence most of us take for granted.”
For more information visit questinc.org/work.html.