Project Search gives students with disabilities new hope for job - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Project Search gives students with disabilities new hope for jobs

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Rachel Cannon greets visitors Rachel Cannon greets visitors
FORT OGLETHORPE, GA (WRCB) -

Students with disabilities often have a hard time finding work after graduation.  Last year, only 22 percent of those students were able to find work within a year after earning their high school diploma. In north Georgia, educators are working to boost that number.  

When you enter Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe, Rachel Cannon is the first person you see.  Rachel is a senior at Lafayette High School.  Although she has cerebral palsy, she's perfectly capable of greeting people, with high hopes of expanding her skills.

Rachel is one of seven students in Project search, a year-long program that takes special needs students out of high school, and into the workforce.

Ryan Baker works in food services.  He helps prepare and serve meals, and keep the kitchen clean.  This program has given him hope for gainful employment after he graduates in may.

At Hutcheson, managers say it's a win-win situation.  Students are learning skills that help with the day-to-day operations, and can later use those skills in many other jobs in the community.

According to the US Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 14 percent, versus 8 percent for people with disabilities.  Project Search just may be the solution to closing that gap.  

Administrators say they appreciate Orange Grove Center, Kaleidoscope, the Walker County Optimist Club, the  ARC of Walker County, Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation, Lafayette Woman's Club, Lafayette Optimist Club and Lafayette Lions Club.

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