“Project Search” helps students with special needs get ready for workforce

Baldwin County

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Baldwin County Student with special needs takes an important step forward. He’s recently made the transition from an internship to an employee at Thomas Hospital. Project Search is a nationwide program set up at school districts across the country. We visited Baldwin County’s program and talked with one student in particular.

Braden Villarreal is seeing his persistence pay off. He’s now a staff member at Thomas Hospital.

“A very big step a very big step in the adult world I guess you could say, it a little scary but this program has been very good for me I would say,” said Villarreal. He’s starting his job at the surgery department at Thomas Hospital after being a part of Project Search, a program aimed at teaching students with special needs the skills they need to be successful in the workforce.

“I think any school system worth their salt looks at all of their students and develops students whether they’re highly gifted or whether you have some challenges to overcome,” said Baldwin County Superintendent Eddie Tyler. Baldwin County’s Project Search has been in place for the last three years and they estimated 30 students have gotten jobs in the community.

“They just can see the students work very hard we don’t necessarily talk about the disability we talk about all our students’ abilities, every student has an ability we pull it out of that student and showcase it,” said Project Search Instructor Shawn O’Conner.


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