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Sudbury Project SEARCH ‘a real difference maker’

Founder of original program recently visited local adaptive internship program at Health Sciences North
Intern Kiyan Ghorbani, left, meets Project SEARCH founder Erin Riehle.

The founder of Project SEARCH was back in Sudbury on March 19 to meet the second group of students from Rainbow Schools who are completing internships at Health Sciences North.  

Project SEARCH was launched in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in an effort to promote a vibrant, inclusive workforce. There are now more than 600 Project SEARCH sites worldwide, including Project SEARCH HSN.

“I knew when I was here last time that you had a great team,” said Erin Riehle, director of Project SEARCH Cincinnati, in a press release. “The folks at the hospital are totally engaged and excited. The skills trainers are some of the best I’ve seen anywhere. The school district is fabulous. So, I am not surprised it’s doing well. I think this is probably one of our best in Canada right now, so I am excited to be back and let you know that I think you are doing a great job.”

The local program has been in place since the fall of 2022 thanks to a partnership between Rainbow District School Board, Health Sciences North, the City of Greater Sudbury and March of Dimes Canada.

Project SEARCH HSN is a transition-to-work program. Students in their final year of high school develop skills required for entry-level employment through classroom instruction and hands-on training. As part of the program, they complete three internships in various departments at Health Sciences North.

The placements, which are eight to 10 weeks in duration, are determined by student interest and skill level. Internships are guided by skilled, experienced staff including a teacher from Rainbow District School Board and two job trainers from March of Dimes Canada.

Riehle said the interns working at Health Sciences North love the adult experience. “Having that adult experience can be a real difference maker,” she said.

When the program was launched in Sudbury, Riehle emphasized its importance. “For most of us, our job is the core building block of a fruitful life,” she said. “Employment leads to friendships, money, improved health, and greater independence. Project SEARCH helps prepare students transitioning to adulthood gain employment and all of the benefits that come along with it.”

Students who are directly benefiting from the program are equally as enthusiastic.

“Overall, it’s been a great experience and I’ve had a great time with this group of interns,” said Frank Kesek.

Intern Kaeden Dennie worked in volunteer services at the hospital and is now in health records. “For me, it’s just making connections and building up skills, and repetition,” he said. “You know, I am a big believer in being able to master skills to be able to go further in your career. For that, one of the things you want to be able to do is feel confident going in every day.”

“Health Sciences North is very proud to be a part of Project SEARCH," said Jessica Diplock, Vice-President, People and Culture at Health Sciences North. "Our interns are thriving throughout our organization and are valued members of our team.”

“Project SEARCH HSN is a shining example of how partnerships benefit students,” said Danielle Williamson, Principal of Special Education Programs and Services for Rainbow District School Board. 

Williamson thanked Riehle for sharing her vision with our community.

“We are grateful to Health Sciences North, the City of Greater Sudbury and March of Dimes Canada for joining with us to enable students to achieve their full potential as confident, caring members of society,” she said.


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