Brunswick Interagency Program Recognized for Innovation
On Sept 24th, Brunswick Community College (Brunswick Interagency Program) was recognized as the 2021 winner of the North Carolina Community College Adult Educator’s Association Innovation Award. This award recognizes creativity, innovative program design, management practices, and excellent student services in continuing education. The award was based on the Project Search initiative, which creates employment opportunities for students with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
For many years, Brunswick Community College has been a state leader in services for people with disabilities. This most recent effort is a collaboration between Brunswick Community College, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Brunswick County Schools, Brunswick Community College Foundation, and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
The project enables students to experience the following learning activities on-site at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center: classroom instruction, employability skills, literacy, supported employment and job coaching, and evaluation. This serves students on lower levels of literacy and enables Novant to address high turnover rates and workforce gaps that exist among entry-level positions. Project Search is a win for both the student and the employer. The goal for each program participant is competitive employment.
Vice President Greg Bland stated that “competitive employment is the goal, the most rewarding outcome, for many of our students with special abilities. Competitive employment is a mainstream experience that ensures people with I/DD are working and serving alongside others who do not have a disability. Employment brings income but, more importantly, it brings a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and confidence. Seeing this occur in our community is extremely rewarding for our team. The students involved in this initiative are the most loyal, hardest working people in our community.”
A closer look at Project Search shows the Project Search location, Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, is completely integrated, and the students have the same advancement opportunities as other employees. Project Search has provided real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to make successful transitions to productive adult life. Through a series of three targeted internships, the interns acquire competitive, marketable and transferable skills to enable them to apply for a related position. Interns also build communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills which is important to their overall development as an employee. Working from a task list, they acquire the core skills necessary to be hired in an entry-level position at the host business site or in the community. The Innovation Award highlighted that employment specialists, Brunswick County Schools instructors, and Novant Health employees are working together to provide an amazing environment for students.