TROY — Launch, a new program focused on providing jobs to individuals with disabilities, is off the ground running at Upper Valley Medical Center.
Launch is a one-year high school transition program for individuals with disabilities ages 18 to 22. According to Launch Program Coordinator Patti Moore, those enrolled in the program receive training and education that leads to employment in the community. It takes the place of the Project SEARCH program, which was active for 10 years.
“We saw an opportunity to independently provide flexible on the job training while empowering individuals to access resources as they transition from Upper Valley Career Center to adulthood,” Moore said. “It’s about a job. Launch allows us to better connect interns to their communities throughout the school year.”
Launch program participants include Upper Valley Career Center (UVCC), Premier Health’s Upper Valley Medical Center and Koester Pavilion, RT Industries, Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and Riverside/Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
This year, five Launch participants at UVMC and Koester are receiving real life work experience on internships, improving interpersonal communications as they interact with guests and residents and enhancing independent life skills. Those life skills are being learned through cooking, presentations, and participation in a health and wellness program at the UVMC Farmhouse.
The program’s five interns are from the Anna, Fort Loramie, Sidney, and Tipp City school districts. In addition to Moore, interns work with Becky Black, paraprofessional from the UVCC, and Josh Wackler, job coach from RT Industries.
Launch interns work in several areas including UVMC linens, UVMC dietary, UVMC education, Koester dietary, Koester physical therapy, Koester medical records, and Koester central supply/laundry.
The program change was from “better to best. This takes it up a notch,” Moore said of Launch’s offerings to the interns and to the communities in Miami, Darke, and Shelby counties.
The program includes a Monday through Thursday focus on internships while Friday activities focus on topics such as career chats with people from the community, health and wellness, use of money, and experiences involving cooking.
The uncertainty of COVID-19 has affected programs such as Launch, forcing more behind-the-scenes experiences in health care settings, according to Moore.
“We are learning so much about this moment in time that will forever have an impact on our lives. We are learning to be flexible, as interpretations of COVID mandates get handed down to us,” Moore said. “We are learning to ‘see beyond the mask’ and verbally reach out to our guests, residents, and each other.”