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Sunflower Diversified creates tools for health-education program
biz slt sunflower health matters
Jeneva, a Sunflower Diversified Services client, measures a serving of strawberries with her hand after learning new ways to calculate food portions. Sunflower created a tool that illustrates this technique as part of its Health Matters program. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

    When Sunflower Diversified Services staff members reviewed a new health-education curriculum, they knew it would be valuable to people with developmental disabilities.
    They also discovered they could add to it.
    As a result, Sunflower has created a few new tools to guide people as they look for ways to eat a healthier diet.
    One example is a grocery list with photos for those who cannot read, said Brandi Demel, Sunflower’s full-time registered nurse.
    “This is a great resource for people at the grocery store,” Demel commented. “As we all know, shopping can sometimes be overwhelming and this photo list of healthy choices comes in handy for our clients with disabilities.”
    Sunflower clients also now have access to a tool that illustrates how they can learn about food portions by using their hands as measuring devices.
    In addition, a Sunflower case manager created a “Healthy Eating” booklet that provides detailed information about dietary choices, along with encouragement to exercise and drink more water.
    The new curriculum is based on a course called Health Matters, which is a roadmap to better lifestyle options, Demel commented.
    “We are now using this curriculum and some homemade tools to help people gain more control over their diets,” Demel said. “Health Matters also outlines ways for people to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes.
    “We are teaching preventive measures so that small problems don’t become big problems,” Demel continued. “This, in turn, leads to fewer emergency room visits and lower health-care costs.”
    Demel discovered Health Matters through Sunflower’s Health Outreach program, which is part of a statewide effort to enhance the mental and physical health of Kansans, including those with developmental disabilities and delays.
    “One of our partners in this state program told me about this,” Demel said. “And I am glad she did. In addition to dietary concerns, the curriculum also deals with self-esteem and other issues. It expands on the many education programs we have offered at Sunflower for many years.
    “We also want to continue to demonstrate that exercise not only leads to better physical health, it allows people to simply feel better about themselves,” she elaborated. “When all of these things come together, we have more energy and self-confidence. This leads to more rewarding and productive lives.”
    Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. The non-profit agency is in its 49th year.