Clinical Center News
July/August 2017

Eight young adults graduate NIH Project SEARCH with enhanced workplace, community skills

Surrounded by NIH employees, parents and friends, eight young adults received a standing ovation as they graduated the NIH Project SEARCH program June 13.

Project SEARCH at NIH provides education and training to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The program involves a 30-week internship for participants to strengthen their workforce and career skills. The transition to adulthood marks a big turning point in life for everyone, but for young people with disabilities that transition can be very tough. Young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are three times less likely to be employed in their 20s than those without disabilities. If they are employed, many are underemployed, despite their ability, desire and willingness to work.

"The goal of Project SEARCH NIH is to attempt to level the playing field for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are transitioning from school to work," said Denise Ford, NIH team lead for Project SEARCH.

More than 70 graduates have completed the program at NIH and over 75% of graduates find employment either at NIH or in the community within six months of graduation.

The program is supported by the Ivymount School’s Post High School Program which prepares students for a successful transition from school to employment and adult life; and SEEC, a local nonprofit that provides community-based employment support to transitioning youth and adults.

Project Search graduate Annabel Hunter holds up her certificate
Annabel Hunter enjoyed the opportunity to work in the Clinical Center Patient Support Services Department well as with The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. She sorted and delivered mail, shredded documents and scanned documents to create electronic files. Hunter said, she likes moving around rather than sitting still, so it gave her the opportunity to do that. She also said she gained a lot of confidence and enjoyed the supportive team.
Project Search graduate Zachary Sweet and Dr. John I. Gallin at the graduation ceremony
Zachary Sweet, a 2017 graduate, worked with the Clinical Center Department of Clinical Research Informatics. Above he poses with Dr. John I. Gallin, NIH Associate Director for Clinical Research & Chief Scientific Officer of the NIH Clinical Center. While at the Clinical Center, Sweet helped re-image laptops, organize cable cords and surplus equipment. Sweet said he enjoyed the great support and working with nice people and appreciated the experience.