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Disabilities Become Opportunities at Children's Mercy

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Friday, October 10, 2014   

KANSAS CITY - From guest services to human resources, education, and transportation, dozens of young adults are proving that disabilities don't mean they can't find or keep a job. They are part of an innovative program at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.

Kathy Smith is the program manager for Project RISE, which stands for "Reaching for Independent Successful Employment." She says it initially launched seven years ago with former patients and now employs the largest number of people with disabilities of any Kansas City company.

"Most folks with disabilities would tell you they would much prefer to be employed, rather than relying on Social Security benefits or something like that," Smith says. "They bring incredible problem-solving ability and talents to the workplace."

Roughly 57 million Americans live with a disability, according to the most recent U.S. Census data.

Smith says the program is built around on-the-job training and in most cases, Project RISE employees have not needed much in the way of special accommodations. She hopes the success of the program will inspire other employers to consider disability awareness and outreach to this group of workers to be part of their overall diversity efforts.

"Just like race or ethnicity, disability is just yet another factor that makes us all unique," Smith says.

More information on Project RISE is on the hospital website, ChildrensMercy.org.




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