On Wednesday evening my sister graduated from Project Search. For those of you unfamiliar with this wonderful program here is a bit of information from their Cincinnati website:
Project SEARCH serves people with disabilities through innovative workforce and career development. Through this process we educate employers about the potential of this underutilized workforce while meeting their human resource needs… The program is dedicated to workforce development that benefits the individual, community and workplace.
This was also the official close to April’s public education. At 22 she has officially aged-out and is facing the “real world.” I will be honest. It was a very bittersweet moment for me.
The ceremony was beautiful and really made me think about a lot of things. My sister and I were (and are) frequently compared. “You two are just alike – only April has an extra chromosome.” After living through some of April’s experiences and decisions this year I realized something – we are not alike. We are very different people with very different interests. But we are still sisters who love each other (an annoy each other) a lot.
April’s job interests are very different from what I would have expected. She like food service instead of office work. She says it’s because she can talk to more people. People who work with me know I love my office. My profession requires me to talk a lot. I enjoy retreating up the stairs to my little sanctuary on the sixth floor. April would not like that at all.
I am proud of the things she has learned and accomplished. I think the hardest part of her year was learning how to interact with other people with intellectual disabilities. Decision making, interpersonal skills, and communication are difficult for many young adults – then add cognitive and language barriers to that and you get … some very interesting situations!
I am proud of the things April has accomplished in her life. She reads, does all her own self-care, uses a computer, emails, and is (like me) addicted to Facebook. This year she also learned to take the Metro from her town to Xavier University where she worked for Project Search.
People have asked me, “What does she want to do next?” Frankly, I’m not sure. She has applied to a local grocery store chain for a position there. She’s working all summer in admissions at a large amusement park as she’s done the past 3 summers.
Unlike my sister I would have the next 10 years planned out – with back up plans A, B, and C. April is happy to do what is in front of her right now. This is hard for me to understand being a self-driven, independent, eldest child. Learning from my sister hasn’t ended. And for that I am very thankful.