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Sunflower reps meet with lawmakers at Push Day event in Topeka
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Advocates for people with disabilities from across Kansas gather at Push Day. Fourteen clients and three staff members represented Sunflower Diversified Services at the annual event in Topeka on March 23. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

         Sunflower Diversified Services representatives recently met with the people making decisions about how programs for people with disabilities will be provided.

          Fourteen Sunflower clients and three staff members traveled to Topeka for Push Day at the State Capitol. InterHab, the statewide agency that speaks for people with developmental disabilities and delays, sponsored the annual event.

          “This is a great time to come face-to-face with legislators and talk about the future of services for individuals and families,” said Amanda Urban, Sunflower training/advocacy coordinator. “Lawmakers get a chance to meet real people who are directly affected by their votes.

          “This is an experience you don’t forget,” Urban continued. “There were more than 100 people gathered for a common purpose – to talk about the needs of vulnerable people who need a helping hand.”

          People with disabilities advocated for themselves at a microphone in front of the crowd, Urban noted.

          “They talked about how important staff members are in their lives,” Urban said. “They said action must be taken to help the 3,500 Kansans who remain on a waiting list for vital services. It was an amazing experience.

          “There was a Wichita legislator who said he was on his way to vote on issues,” she continued. “He and other lawmakers sent us the same message: ‘we have your back.’”

          In addition to the benefits to clients and decision-makers, Push Day allows staff members to come away with enhanced knowledge and new ideas. A relatively new Sunflower staff member made the trip this year for the first time and was impressed, Urban said.

          “He learned from people with disabilities from all across Kansas,” Urban explained. “It allowed him to think more about governmental issues that directly affect how we do our jobs every day.”

          Sunflower serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. The non-profit agency is celebrating its 50thanniversary this year.