By Erica Barry
HNN Summer Intern
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This summer, some 223 disabled youth are serving as interns in state agencies.
On Friday, the governor recognized 15 of the participants, and said the program offers disabled youth an opportunity to get important job experience.
For many of the youth, the internship is their first job. They're paid $10 an hour, thanks to a vocational rehabilitation grant.
"We are proud to be able to offer these opportunities for people with disabilities to contribute their skills and talents to Hawaii's workforce," Gov. David Ige said.
The program, added state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Linda Chu Takayama, has been a "resounding success" for the students and staff.
Participant Julian Kim called the experience a valuable way to prepare for college and career.
Participant Zechariah Camacho agreed.
It was "so life changing, I'm just like, oh my gosh! I just gained this opportunity to work in this place!"
Camacho's mother, Stephanie, said the work program also gives the students confidence and pride.
"I really thank the Lord for this, being a single parent, this kind of organization is really awesome to help us... especially for the boys." she said.