(WBIR-DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE) A program formed at a hospital in Cincinnati 20 years ago to help people with disabilities has spread across the country.
East Tennessee Children's Hospital adopted it three years ago and has has a lot of success.
"I just start at the top and work down," Chris Sanders said.
He keeps a list of his duties and checks them off when he finishes each assignment.
"I've got to do the main entrance, MOV, west entrance, outside the VD, then sweep the entrance to the bus stop," he read from his list.
He has excelled in his assignments at Children's Hospital and he is even entrusted to run a large buffing machine.
"I like everything about it," he said.
Chris is an intern in Project SEARCH.
"To be an intern in Project SEARCH you have to have some type of disability and you have to have funding either through DIDD or through vocational rehab," Vanessa Hermann said. She is the Project SEARCH Coordinator.
The nine month internship immerses them in a typical work environment.
"They are learning job skills, personal hygiene skills, time management, interviewing skills they report to their work site," Vanessa said.
Interns like Chris work for about 4 hours, with group meetings before and after their shifts to talk about their day.
"They learn and grow so much. They take on accountability and responsibility and they really find out who they are," she said.
They figure out what kind of work they would like to do. When the internship ends, Project SEARCH can help them apply for jobs.
"If you hire someone with a disability they really want to work and they want to start off at those beginning level jobs and they want to stay there and they want have pride and earn a paycheck and contribute to society," she said.
That is certainly the case with Carly Snidow.
She was part of the first class of Project SEARCH interns. When the internship ended, Children's Hospital hired her.
"I do cleaning. I help with stripping the beds when they get new admits coming in," Carly explained.
Those new admits are patients. Carly fills out color-coded cards for patients in her role as a medical support tech.
For Carly, it's all about the patients.
"That's only one thing I really like about my job is to be here and make sure the patient's get all the care they need," she said.
She thinks she has an advantage in dealing with the young patients.
"Because I'm short and I can relate to that to them." :
Carly Snidow: a success story from Project SEARCH.
She said, "Don't let other people tell you that you cannot do anything because you can."
Carly shares her positive attitude in her role as an informal mentor for new interns.