Program helping people with disabilities get jobs is seeing success in Aurora

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AURORA, Colo. — A local school-to-work transition program is seeing success helping young adults with disabilities get competitive jobs.

UCHealth is one organization that runs the program called Project SEARCH. Students ages 18 to 21 can intern in one of 80 departments at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora.

They also get a job coach through Easterseals Colorado, who helps the students develop job skills.

That’s how Chris Cannizzaro got his job working in the radiology department. The 21-year-old with autism started as an intern, but is now gainfully employed.

He takes patients back for their scans, and gets them prepped.

“My best skill is making patients feel at ease, not so nervous,” he said with a smile.

He gets plenty of support from his Easterseals Colorado job coach, Megan Quinn. She says people with disabilities can do anything and everything they want, and Chris is a good example of that. With her support, more than 80 percent of her students get jobs.

How does Chris like his work?

“I love it,” he said.

And his co-workers say he’s good at his job. Sherry Vowinkle-Torres says Chris is great with patients.

“I enjoy working with him, and I’m glad he’s here,” she said.

That is something to celebrate for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

For more information, go to the UCHealth website.

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