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New Internship Program at Waterbury Hospital Will Prepare Young Adults with Disabilities for Career Success


New Internship Program at Waterbury Hospital Will Prepare Young Adults with Disabilities for Career Success

Ability Beyond and Waterbury Hospital join forces to promote inclusion and independence through internationally-recognized Project SEARCH model.


WATERBURY, Conn.—Local young adults with disabilities may now gain real-life work experiences at Waterbury Hospital, thanks to a 10-month internship program that will launch this fall through the hospital and Ability Beyond. 

"We are excited to embark on this journey with partners who actively and deeply share our vision for a more inclusive world,” said Kate Travis, Services Director at Ability Beyond. “Together, we will help young adults with disabilities overcome barriers and achieve their career goals with independence and dignity.”

The program, which follows the internationally-recognized Project SEARCH model, combines immersive workplace training with wraparound employment support, designed to place graduates in competitive jobs at living wages.

“The ultimate goal is for each intern to secure competitive employment within their community,” Travis said. “We leverage our expertise and legacy of successful job placements alongside the skills each intern gains through the program to make that goal a reality.”

“We are pleased to partner with Ability Beyond to help differently abled young adults overcome barriers and learn skills to make their career goals a reality. Waterbury Hospital has a long history of supporting the community through career and job development programs. This is another great addition to those initiatives and an important program for our community,” said Waterbury HEALTH President and CEO Deborah Weymouth.

The Waterbury Hospital program will run the course of a school year, with interns participating five days a week to complete a total of three job rotations. 

The rotations span different areas of the hospital, so interns can learn unique lessons and transferable skills. For instance, they may work in environmental services, the maternity ward, the emergency department, food services, patient transport, or ambulatory surgery. 

During soft-skill classes, students will also learn about such topics as self-advocacy, financial literacy, health and wellness, and technology.

“By fostering an environment where individuals of all abilities can thrive, we're not only enhancing the lives of the participants but also enriching our community and strengthening our workforce,” Travis said. 

She added: “This model is effective because it is built on the foundation of a strong partnership.”

The first Project SEARCH program at Ability Beyond began in 2017 in New York and has since expanded into Connecticut with offerings at Danbury and Norwalk Hospitals.

Other partners include Nuvance Health, Norwalk Public Schools, Norwalk Community College, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, and Connecticut Aging and Disability Services.

Project SEARCH began in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and now has over 740 sites throughout the world.

About Ability Beyond:

Ability Beyond is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to provide health and human services to adults with disabilities throughout Connecticut and lower Hudson Valley, NY. Founded more than 70 years ago, Ability Beyond is headquartered in Bethel, CT, and Chappaqua, NY. Ability Beyond provides a wide range of services for more than 3,000 people, including numerous residential alternatives, employment training, career counseling, job placement services, cognitive and life skills instruction, clinical and therapeutic support, and volunteer and recreational activities. At Ability, we believe in discovering, building, and celebrating the ability of all people.

About Waterbury HEALTH

Waterbury HEALTH, which includes Waterbury Hospital, Alliance Medical Group, Cardiology Associates of Greater Waterbury, VNA Health at Home and Access Rehab Centers, Greater Waterbury Imaging Center, offers comprehensive healthcare services including primary care, emergency and acute care, and home healthcare. Serving Waterbury and eleven surrounding communities in Western Connecticut, Waterbury HEALTH is a member of Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc., a national family of hospitals and healthcare networks. For more information about Waterbury HEALTH visit: https://www.wtbyhealth.org/.