Local Goodwill Prepares Youth with Disabilities for Adult Life

Governor Jack Markell greets student Alyssa Cowin from Wilmington who is participating in the inaugural Project SEARCH initiative.Nineteen-year-old Sarah Yoncoskie is getting hands-on experience at Christiana Hospital – part of the largest health care system in Delaware – thanks to a joint partnership between Christiana Care Health System, the state Departments of Labor and Education, the Red Clay Consolidated School District and Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County.

“I hope to get a job at Christiana,” she told The News Journal as she browsed the hospital’s job site. “I am looking for opportunities and to see what’s out there.”

Yoncoskie participates in Project SEARCH, a program that combines work experience with training in employability and independent living skills to help young adults with disabilities make successful transitions from school to adult life. Students attend the program for a full school year, participating in classes on employability and living skills as well as working at a host site.

The school district provides a special education teacher and the Goodwill® provides up to three job coaches to work with the students at each site. After learning about topics such as team building, money management and job search skills, students go to their jobs, rotating through several different ones during the year. The total workplace immersion enables a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and on-the-job training and support. On March 30, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell visited Christiana Hospital to formally recognize the success of Project SEARCH.

On some days, Yoncoskie works in the materials management equipment room at Christiana Hospital. She checks the computer for requests from nurses – as many as 700 in a single shift – and retrieves the supplies needed. On other days, she works at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, assisting with billing and updating files. She told The News Journal that the jobs make her feel important.

“People over there [at the cancer center] have told me ‘you’re amazing’ and ‘you’re doing the right thing,’” she said.

Read more in The News Journal.