On June 21st, eight participants of our Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement program graduated from their internship positions, celebrating their achievement with parents and loved ones in a small ceremony at the New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center in White Plains.
Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement (PS-AE) is a ten-month internship program for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was created by NEXT for AUTISM in partnership with The Arc Westchester, New York-Presbyterian Behavioral Health Center, and The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB) and is supported by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). PS-AE offers a total immersion in the workplace, facilitating the teaching and learning process, as well as the acquisition of employability and marketable work skills.
Guest speakers included Dr. Philip Wilner, Senior VP and COO, New York-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, Jennifer Papas, Project Search Autism Enhancement Business Advisory Council Member, and Chief Administrative Office, Mavis Tire Express Service Corp., and our own Tibi Guzman, Executive Director and CEO, The Arc Westchester. Each spoke to the passion and hard work displayed by the eight graduates, and congratulated them on their teamwork and desire to pursue meaningful employment in our communities.
The six young men and two young women then shared about their individual internships, what they learned from each unique experience and their goals for what they would like to accomplish in the future. They made a video presentation of the year in review and each graduate addressed the guests and thanked their staff, internship supervisors, and families for supporting them during this journey. Afterward, The Arc Westchester’s PS-AE Coordinator Nancy Fraher, and Director of Career Development and Support, Shari Lewitt, presented each graduate with certificates to officially recognize their completion of the program.