Program Helps Children With Disabilities Find Jobs - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Program Helps Children With Disabilities Find Jobs

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The goal of this year's annual Mayor's Summit was on Secondary Transition Services. Metro Mayor Karl Dean hoped to help more children with disabilities find work in the city.

Jimmy Ross is a part of a program called Project Opportunity, a government program aimed at getting young people with disabilities real jobs.

"It's life changing. It's a big step in responsibility. I've learned a lot," said Ross.

The 20-year-old works at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital sterilizing and bar coding instruments for surgery.

"We saw a high turnover rate in entry level positions at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, and we also saw a high amount of unemployment in individuals with disabilities," said Project Opportunity Director Susan Ezell.

Vanderbilt signed on as a partner to the program, and more than a dozen Project Opportunity interns work there.

"More young people like these deserve opportunities. These students and later employees make judgments and preconceived notions disappear," said Dr. Kevin Churchwell at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

Mayor Karl Dean would like to see more of this kind of program.

"It would speak so highly of our city if our city becomes a leader in establishing transitional services - be it for the workforce or higher education for children with special needs," said Dean.

City leaders spent Monday discussing ways to help children with disabilities before they graduate.
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"There is a need here. There is a need in our community, and in our school system," Metro Schools Director Dr. Jesse Register.

A need that many say can be met through programs and partnerships. Elise McMillan is on the Mayor's Council on Special Education and knows her son, Will, had benefited from the program.

"When he talks about the things he's doing at the hospital, and he is somebody that benefitted. He was at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital for surgeries when he was little, and for him to be able to give back, it's very important for him," said McMillan.

The Mayor will use the input from Monday's Mayor's Summit for future plans and programs to help children with disabilities.

To learn more about Project Opportunity, click here 

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