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Project SEARCH helps young adults with disabilities receive career training in Eau Claire
By Kaitlyn Riley Posted: Feb 02, 2017 3:30 PM
Eau Claire (WQOW) – Graduating from high school can be a scary transition as young adults leave for higher education or start applying for first jobs, but it can be even more challenging for those living with developmental disabilities.
For the first time since September 2016, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire has teamed up with Project SEARCH, a program that helps young adults with developmental disabilities prepare for work. The program teaches interns employability skills through job training, classroom work and career exploration.
Alberto Larabee, 22, was among Mayo Clinic Health System’s first interns in Project SEARCH. He first started working security, monitoring cameras and writing tickets as a part of parking enforcement.
« Now I’m working with the bio-med guys and UHS people, » Alberto said. « It is really fun to work with these guys because they are always so funny. »
Alberto will try three different careers for 10 weeks. His parents, Mike and Lynne Larabee, said he has enjoyed all of the rotations. « It gives him an opportunity to try different things because every part-time job he has had, he’s liked and wanted to do, » Lynne said.
Alberto said he especially enjoys fixing machines and taking apart equipment because he has always been a hands-on person. Alberto works every day to overcome his intellectual disability.
« We don’t know the exact causes of all of Alberto’s needs, » Lynne said. « He was born in the Philippines, and we know he was very malnourished, and so the assumption has always been that the malnourishment created some delays. »
Mike and Lynne brought Alberto home when he was almost three-years-old. « He walked in like he owned the place, and he’s been a part of our lives every since, » Mike said. The Larabees have another son, Jacob, who is 29.