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Nurse leads Tai Chi classes at Sunflower Diversified Services
loc or biz slt mlee sunflower tai chi
Hannah Laurin, Sunflower Diversified Services life skills development facilitator, demonstrates movement for Karl Schewenneker, an agency client. Laurin is assisting Sunflowers nurse in providing specialized Tai Chi classes. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Since Brandi Demel, R.N., knows that studies indicate Tai Chi is an excellent resource for addressing physical and cognitive concerns, she is sharing her expertise with Sunflower Diversified Services clients.
Demel is the full-time registered nurse at the non-profit agency, which serves people with developmental disabilities and delays. She earned her certification to be a class instructor through World Tai Chi.
“We are concentrating on two specific types of Tai Chi,” Demel said. “They are designed for all fitness levels and people with special needs.”
One method is called S.T.A.R., which stands for Seniors Transcending and Revitalizing. The other is B.E.A.M., or Body, Energy and Mind.
In general, Tai Chi is a form of exercising that concentrates on breathing and muscle movement.
“Studies have shown that Tai Chi decreases the risk of injuries from falling and other types of physical ailments,” Demel explained. “It also increases flexibility and stamina. In many cases, it can increase brain function, and therefore, cognitive abilities.
“These exercises make your brain work,” Demel continued. “And the more you do them, the more your cognition level increases. We can adapt to any level of development.”
For example, Demel can assist people while they are standing, sitting or lying down.
Classes recently started at Sunflower’s CHS location on K-96 and Demel hopes to add classes at the agency’s main facility near the Great Bend Airport. This is the home of Sunflower’s manufacturing plant that employs people with developmental disabilities.
“We want to provide these classes for our clients before the work day begins,” Demel said. “The staff also will be encouraged to participate.”
Staff members are being trained to assist Demel in the classes, which currently are being held once or twice a week. The goal is three days a week.
Sunflower’s service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.