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Sunflower Diversified invites lawmakers for tours, education
sunflower Cody Day cooking 2019
Cody Day, a client at Sunflower Diversified Services, prepares food at his home, as George Lewis lends support. Lewis is a direct-support professional at Sunflower.

Area legislators have been invited to get an up-close look at how Sunflower Diversified Services staff members provide support every day to people with intellectual disabilities and delays.

Members of the Kansas Legislature who are invited are Sen. Mary Jo Taylor, and Reps. Tory Arnberger, Alicia Straub, Troy Waymaster and Leonard Mastroni.

“We will offer tours and arrange for legislators to shadow staff members,” said Amanda Urban, director of adult services. “This will provide education about what our direct-support professionals do on a day-to-day basis.

“Those who participate will learn that these staff members wear many hats; they are mentors, teachers, cooks and hairdressers, to name a few of their roles.”

The Sept. 12 event will include lunch, and tours/shadowing at the Early Education Center, recycling operation, CHS building and manufacturing plant. Visits to clients’ homes are on the agenda too.

“Staff at some residential locations are able to give the best picture of what a day in the life of a direct-support professional is all about,” Urban said. “They are experts in their field and look forward to demonstrating how they do their jobs and the benefits reaped by clients.

“In addition, the people we serve will share information about their lives at home and work, and during their leisure hours. Our legislators will come away with a clearer picture of the importance of how direct-support professionals help clients achieve their goals.”

This first-time event at Sunflower is scheduled in observance of National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, Sept. 8-14. Sunflower is collaborating with InterHab, the state organization that advocates for people with disabilities and delays.

“This special observance validates these professionals’ important work,” Urban commented. “The job is intense but it is extremely rewarding.

“In addition, this event will shine a light on the people we serve. They are like anyone else who wants to earn a paycheck, have lifestyle options and enjoy community activities. We appreciate InterHab’s help in spreading the word to legislators.”

Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 53rd year.