By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Governor Scott Walker made his second trip to Wisconsin Rapids in three weeks, as he visited with Project SEARCH students on Monday afternoon at Aspirus Riverview Hospital.
“One of the things I always stress with Project SEARCH is that this is not for charity,” said Walker. “What Project SEARCH does is to help identify the abilities that each of you have instead of focusing on what society may define as a disability.”
Project SEARCH got its start over 20 years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio and facilitates employment training for students with disabilities. Last June marked the graduation of the first class in Wisconsin Rapids, with the completion of this year coming fast.
According to Walker, Wisconsin ranks in the top 10 in the country for employment of those with disabilities. The governor attributes much of that to programs like Project SEARCH.
“Project SEARCH allows us to get more people off the sidelines and into the game,” said Walker. “I wanted to be here in particular today with our two cabinet secretaries to tell you how proud we are of you.”
Students will graduate on May 31, and are already in the process of finding jobs for graduates after the school year. Project SEARCH Instructor Stefanie Tryba is hopeful that many will find work by the end of the school year. Students will continue to polish their resumes and meet with job coaches to prepare for the future.
“We love when the governor comes because he gets to see the things that we’re doing,” said Tryba. “When I told them [students] they were very ecstatic — It’s a teachable moment; how do we act, what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate? So not only is it wonderful to have him here and showing us support for our program it also gives us that teachable moment.”