Project Search: A labor of love and opportunity

WDTN Photo/Jake Ryle
WDTN Photo/Jake Ryle


SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and one local hospital is winning international awards with an internship program.

Springfield Regional Medical Center has an internship program geared toward students with disabilities. It is called Project Search, and it’s all about beginning and ending a search for a job within the hospital walls.

According to Dennis Grant, executive director of United Rehabilitation Services, more than 80 percent of people with disabilities from ages 16 to 65 are unemployed.

“It’s unbelievable, the untapped resource that’s out there with people with disabilities who want to work and who are capable of working,” said Grant.

Project Search, an international internship program is geared toward putting high school students with disabilities in jobs.

Sidney Acton is a Project Search intern. She’s been working in the hospital since June of last year. Sidney has a hand in every surgery. She folds towels and puts bags together for surgeons to use in the operating room.

To the interns, it is a labor of love. And an opportunity.

Practice makes perfect for the interns. And perfection is taught by the mentors who guide them through each daily job.

The program is in its fourth year and accolades are pouring in.

Recently, the Project Search program recognized Springfield Regional for employing 100 percent of its graduates – one of only 20 hospitals in the world to do so.

“These people are capable of working like anyone else,” Grant said. “All you have to do is give them a chance and they’ll be the best employee you’ll ever have because they value so much that opportunity.”

As for the interns – they will have a graduation ceremony for their high school degree on May 18.

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