CHIPPEWA VALLEY Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Thanks to a special program, young adults with disabilities are getting connected with career opportunities in the Chippewa Valley.

“Even though you have a disability, you’re still capable of doing things that other people can do.”

Words of encouragement from one Project Search intern. Project Search is a program working to help young people with disabilities navigate the real world and feel confident going into the workforce.

“They’re immersed in the business, in the workplace, learning real work skills. Soft skills and how important those are for continued success in the workplace. Like getting along with your coworkers and being able to manage your time and all those things are so important to their success, and that’s what they’re learning from this experience.”

Today, Project Search invited local business owners and hiring managers to Micon Cinema for a chance to learn about the program and meet with this year’s interns.

“We’ve got a great dynamic group of interns and our hope is to partner them with a super dynamic group of people that are here as our business advisory folks. That’s the number one goal of our program is employment.”

A parent of a Project Search intern says the program helped her son gain skills to him get through the disability cliff A term used to describe when people with disabilities age out of the school support systems that normally help them succeed.

“I think Project Search changed the trajectory of his life. I really do. I think the skills that he gained and the confidence that he gained have allowed him to find a job and keep a job, and that has changed everything for him. I absolutely saw a difference in his ability to navigate the world independently.”

Project Search is a program meant to benefit employers too.

“Really the reality is that by hiring people with differing abilities, you’re really strengthening and diversifying your workforce.”

Over 90 percent of Project Search graduates are hired as full-time employees in the Chippewa Valley.