JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Joint Base Andrews hosted a graduation today for four students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have worked at multiple locations on base for the last nine months.
These graduates have been participating in the transition-to-work Project SEARCH program. Project SEARCH, which began in 1996 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, establishes internships at local businesses and government organizations for students with disabilities. The program now has more than 500 locations worldwide, with JBA being one of the few military installations among them.
“Providing this opportunity to the students allows a chance at competitive employment despite learning disabilities,” said Adreinne H. Barnett, Project SEARCH business liaison for JBA. “These young men and women are smart, capable and dedicated individuals who get the job done.”
One of the main goals of Project SEARCH is to help improve students’ abilities beyond just basic task skills. Brittni Jenkins, student and Project SEARCH graduate, developed her customer service skills by working with customers at the commissary and the library.
“Students have been able to learn and grow during their internship,” said Barnett. “They have not only learned job-specific skills, but attributes such as independence, confidence, interaction skills and self-esteem.”
Project SEARCH has also helped the base with the Air Force priorities of diversity and inclusion.
“Equity and access is something we need in all of our organizations,” said Doralie Palamos, assistant supervisor in secondary transitions for Prince George’s County Public Schools. “Project SEARCH allows that equity and access, or diversity and inclusion, to take shape in organizations and work centers such as the ones here at Joint Base Andrews.”
The program first came to JBA in 2017, offering students the opportunity to work at multiple locations on base, including the Presidential Inn, the Club at Andrews and even a data entry position at the 316th Civil Engineer Squadron.
“It has been a great experience having the students work with us here at Joint Base Andrews,” said Col. Tyler R. Schaff, 316th Wing and installation commander. “The work they have put in is really going to pay off on their future endeavors as they have shown just how capable they truly are and we look forward to hosting the program again next school year.”
If your work center is interested in hosting Project SEARCH interns, please contact Mrs. Adreinne Barnett at email@example.com