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Bibb County program helps students with disabilities develop career skills

Bibb County Schools and Middle Georgia State University teamed up to offer a program called Project SEARCH to help their special needs students with career skills

MACON, Ga. — Whether it's organizing books in the library, assisting the cooks in the cafeteria, or working at the campus bookstore, high school seniors in Bibb County are learning valuable skills through Project SEARCH.

"They told me it was a good idea for people with special needs like me and my friends with disabilities to help us find jobs," Howard High School Senior Parker Perry said.

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Perry is one of eight interns in the program instructed by Dana Boyd and Kim Soles.

"Project SEARCH is a program that teaches young adults with disabilities job skills, so once they complete the program they'll be able to find jobs, paying jobs. It's an internship," Boyd said.

Soles says they go over a lot of essential skills.

"We go over money skills, we're doing house cleaning skills, customer skills, and how to interact with people outside of the classroom," Soles said.

Program Executive Director Jennifer Mellor says she's worked to bring the program to the district for the last two years.

"We've reached out to businesses throughout Macon, and Middle Georgia State University kind of questioned us about it and started a conversation," Mellor said.

Mellor monitors the program's success across the nation and sees its impact at the state-level.

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"In the state of Georgia. it has I believe a 100% placement rate to jobs, and I think five years out, 70% of them are still employed, so that's pretty significant for our student population," Mellor said.

She says they're working to partner with more businesses to offer more work sites for future interns.

The eight students will complete three, 10-week internships throughout their year in the Project SEARCH program.

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