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Internships at Lakeland help youth with disabilities get jobs

Lakeland Community College is the new host business site for Lake County’s Project SEARCH, a nationally recognized internship program for students with disabilities seeking competitive employment.

The program was previously hosted at the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD) Deepwood campus, in partnership with the Lake County Educational Service Center (LCESC), Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD/BVR), the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities and OakLeaf Partners Transition Services, a Center of Excellence for Adults at UCP of Greater Cleveland.

LCBDD and program partners felt more students would benefit by moving the program to a college campus.

“Students in the Project SEARCH program want to transition from high school to college or the workplace just like their peers,” said Julie O’Neil, director of special education for LCESC.

The Project SEARCH High School Transition program is a one-year internship program for students with disabilities who are typically on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of high school eligibility. The most important criterion for acceptance into Project SEARCH is a desire to achieve competitive employment upon graduation.

Students are referred to the program through their school district. After graduation, they have the opportunity to utilize the LCBDD Community Employment Services Department for follow-along job coaching services.

Seven local students have already begun participating in three internship rotations on campus to explore a variety of career paths.

The college is providing internships in a variety of settings and encompassing a number of functions within the college, including computer data entry, custodial, clerical, shipping and receiving, event services, athletics, fitness center, and grounds.