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Sunflower Diversified representatives visit Capitol in Topeka
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From left to right: Leon, Denver and Bridget, the delegation from Sunflower Diversified Services to A Day at the Capitol, sit on the steps of the State Capitol in Topeka. They were there to ask lawmakers to support people with developmental disabilities. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

              The framed picture that was delivered to Kansas lawmakers displayed a brief message. It was:

          “I am Bridget. Along with other Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities I rely on you to be my voice to make sure community services are protected. Thank you for speaking up for me. …”

          This message was reinforced by a group of local people with developmental disabilities who participated in “A Day at the Capitol” on March 12.

The group represented Sunflower Diversified Services, which serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.

“By visiting the Capitol, individuals stay in touch with those who make decisions about how they receive much-needed services in their home communities,” said Amanda Urban, Sunflower training/advocacy coordinator. “This allows people to take an active role in advocating for themselves and others with disabilities.”

Sunflower’s AKTION Club and TUFF Group travel to Topeka several times each year. The recent event concentrated on small focus groups to educate legislators about the services they need.

“We want senators and representatives to keep us in mind as they vote on budget issues that directly affect the lives of the people Sunflower serves,” Urban explained. “Our services were recently moved into the KanCare system, which has left us with a lot of unanswered questions.

“It is crucial that people receiving services continue to do so,” Urban added. “The state has indicated it will fund services for the underserved that are already receiving some services. But there are still several thousand Kansans who are totally without services. They have been waiting for years.”

InterHab, the statewide association of developmental-disability service providers, organized A Day at the Capitol.

“We are so grateful to InterHab for sponsoring events such as this and fighting every day for people with disabilities,” Urban commented. “It is a strong association and a strong voice for the people Sunflower serves right here in central Kansas and throughout the state.”