Press Releases

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Students with developmental disabilities join HSC Winnipeg to intern, learn employable skills

HSC Winnipeg becomes first hospital in Canada to partner with Project SEARCH, a global one-year school-to-work program that takes place entirely in the workplace

WINNIPEG — June 28, 2016. Eleven high school students from Winnipeg with developmental disabilities will be studying higher education at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg beginning this fall.. The students are part of Project SEARCH, a one-year program dedicated to providing people with disabilities opportunities to learn relevant, marketable skills while immersed in a business.

"Because hospitals serve individuals with developmental disabilities, it makes sense they should create opportunities for them as well," says Erin Riehle, Founder of Project SEARCH and former Director of Cincinnati Children's Emergency Department. "We've seen incredible success back home, so taking this program abroad keeps that success going."

HSC Winnipeg will become the first hospital in Canada to partner with Project SEARCH, which is already active at Manitoba Hydro and the Manitoba Government.

From Monday to Friday, students will spend six hours each day learning employability skills, interning in various departments, reviewing their day and journaling. After students graduate, they can begin working in the community.

As an organization committed As an organization committed to providing a positive working and learning environment, HSC is thrilled to be the first hospital in Canada to join Project SEARCH," says Dana Erickson, Chief Operating Officer, HSC Winnipeg.

"When Project SEARCH approached us, we immediately recognized the value of the program, both to our staff and for our community. We look forward to working with and learning from these students."

Project SEARCH was met with overwhelming support at HSC Winnipeg, with over 40 departments offering internship positions. Students will be matched with placements that best suit their interests and skills in the fall.

"Everyone deserves to work in a community where they are respected and rewarded for their efforts, skills and accomplishments," says Oly Backstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of SCE LifeWorks. "This program provides students with developmental disabilities an opportunity to unveil students' skills and abilities in a new and exciting way."

"These students are helping build a vibrant community in Manitoba's healthcare system that is built on dignity and respect," says Milton Sussman, Chief Executive Officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "Project SEARCH provides a tremendous opportunity to better reflect the diversity of the community we serve."

Participating schools divisions include:

  • Pembina Trails School Division
  • Prairie Rose School Division
  • River East Transcona School Division
  • Seine River School Division
  • Seven Oaks School Division
  • St. James – Assiniboia School Division
  • Sunrise School Division
  • Winnipeg School Division

About HSC Winnipeg

HSC Winnipeg's vision is Patients First. We provide the best possible hospital experience for patients and families, and create a positive working and learning environment for staff, volunteers and future health-care providers. As Manitoba's largest health-care facility, we provide acute hospital (tertiary and other) and community health services to Manitobans and others. We provide specialty, subspecialty and sophisticated intensive care in a learning environment, and are Manitoba's centre for trauma, burns, neurosciences, and most hospital-based pediatric care. For more information, visit
About Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH was developed at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, a research environment that fosters visionary thinking and innovation. In the program, students with learn relevant marketable skills while immersed in a business. Since its inception, Project SEARCH has grown into 300 sites across the world, helping secure competitive employment for people with intellectual disabilities. For more information, visit

About SCE LifeWorks

It is the mission of SCE LifeWorks to support people with intellectual disabilities to work and participate in the community. It achieves this by developing individual plans, identifying and fostering community based opportunities, and providing reliable, flexible and individualized supports. For more information, visit

For media inquiries, please contact:
Katherine Fox, Director of Communications
HSC Winnipeg

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