Project Search opens door to career opportunities for disabled Arkansans

Living with a disability isn't always easy. It can make it especially difficult when it comes time to enter the real world and find employment.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Living with a disability isn't always easy. It can make it especially difficult when it comes time to enter the real world and find employment.

However, a program called Project Search is helping to make the transition easier, and at CHI St Vincent in Hot Springs, there's proof that it's working.

20-year-old Colin Pearson works behind the scenes in the kitchen at CHI St Vincent.  Pearson is a recent graduate of Project Search, a program at the hospital that helps young adults with disabilities find jobs.

We interviewed Pearson in December of 2016. He was one of nine young adults in the program and part of the first class to graduate from the Hot Springs campus.

“Out of our first nine interns, eight have found jobs. We are still working on the ninth, but it has been incredible progress,” said Candice Rhea, RN Recruiter.

Oriana Poe, 19, is part of the 2017-2018 Project Search class.  She started working in Human Resources as part of the first part of the program.

“I like to say ‘” welcome to human resources may I help you,’” said Poe.

“We see them on day one and maybe they are not so sure of themselves and maybe they don't really know what they want to do yet, but then at the end of their internship we see them smiling, we see them confident, and we see them doing the work and it’s very rewarding,” said Rhea.

As for Pearson, the experience has helped him grow and encouraged him to take chances he never would have otherwise.

“I’m planning to go to college next year, probably National Park,” said Pearson.

This current class will graduate in May of 2018.

Project Search has also proven to be a success in other cities in Arkansas, including Little Rock. 

Read More:

Ark. program builds bridge to first jobs for grads

12 graduate from Project Search Program for young adults with disabilities 

Special UAMS graduation sends 12 out into the world with valuable life skills

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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