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Sunflower clients, staff travel to SACK meeting in Topeka
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Sunflower Diversified Services representatives attend the SACK meeting at Topeka. Back row from left to right are: Cory Ruark, Residential Coordinator Brandon Wiig, Jessica Beal and Donnie Lewis. Front row from left to right are: Brad Linnenkamp, Brad Wright and Robert Davis. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

                           Determination and dedication were two of the main topics at the recent SACK conference in Topeka where Sunflower Diversified Services was represented by 11 clients and three staff members.

            SACK stands for Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas; Sunflower is a non-profit agency that serves infants, toddlers and adults with developmental disabilities and delays in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.

            The two highlighted meeting topics focused on medical-care funding and advice on how Sunflower clients can advocate for themselves.

            “Determination refers to our goal of making changes in legislation concerning KanCare funding for medical needs,” said Lacie Gibson, Sunflower’s training manager/advocacy advisor. “This goes along with the importance of our clients casting their vote on election day. If they are not registered to vote, SACK offers them the opportunity to do so at our annual conference.”

            When the discussion turned to dedication, Sunflower clients were encouraged to make their voices heard. “The dedication we have at Sunflower can make a difference that is life changing,” Gibson said. “Our clients are passionate about their rights and responsibilities. Their strong voices need to be heard.”

            Other topics during the meeting included nutrition and the experiences of others who advocate for people with disabilities and delays.

            “The presentations updated us on many current topics in Kansas and other states,” Gibson commented. “It was also good to hear ideas about how to encourage more local community involvement and to meet new people and hear their stories.

            “The meeting was a real eye-opener – especially regarding legislation,” Gibson continued. “It empowered us to learn more and keep pushing to make a difference. It is also important that our clients experience something new by attending the meeting. They are already planning our SACK trip for next year.”

            Gibson also mentioned the conference wasn’t all work and no play. “The dance was awesome,” she said. “People from all over Kansas were out on the dance floor having a great time. All of us appreciate Sunflower giving us this opportunity.”

            The conference was held June 22-24 at the Ramada Topeka Downtown Hotel & Convention Center.

            Sunflower is in its 52nd year.