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Disability Mentoring Day


By Ad Astra News


RENO COUNTY, Kan.  — Students from Reno County high schools took part in Beyond Borders’ Disability Mentoring Day Wednesday. The students shadowed local business and professional people to see what the world of work is like. Participants first gathered for breakfast at the American Legion, where State Representative Jason Probst, who was a mentor this year, was the keynote speaker.

A breakfast was held at the American Legion Post 68 Home at the start of Beyond Borders’ Disability Mentoring Day Wednesday. (Photo by Lucky Kidd)

In his remarks, Probst focused on what is “normal.” While it’s often thought of as something that never changes and never moves, but in reality, it’s always moving and changing. “What’s normal for one person living in one period of time is completely different for somebody living in another period of time, or another person,” he said.

Probst noted 20 years ago, disability mentoring type events just would not have happened. Today they are commonplace. Another example he raised was curb cuts, the inserts that today are nearly universal when a sidewalk approaches a street. There was a time though when the concept was very controversial, noting people were saying “it’s so expensive, we don’t want to do it, it’s just for a very limited group of people. Today you do not build a curb anywhere in the world without a curb cut.”

He also shared his own experiences with ADHD which he for the most part was able to manage until the COVID-19 pandemic when things began to accelerate, and he had to make adjustments to deal with it. In his case, Probst said he has to focus on one thing at a time and get it done before moving on to the next thing, otherwise it gets a little tricky.

Buhler High student Andrew Brown and his mentor, State Representative Jason Probst (D-Hutchinson)

During the day, Probst served as a mentor for Buhler High School student Andrew Brown, who had a lot of questions about how the government works. “We got to go through the legislative process and showed him how to look up a statute and how a bill makes its way through, but also a lot of questions about the community, and how to make the world a better place,” Probst said.

For his part, Brown said he learned about politics, and how everything on the innards of the country works.

Another mentor was Sherry Treece, a STEM educator at the Cosmosphere. Three students who went with her went through the Carey Digital Dome and Planetarium where they saw how their Night Sky Live is set up, and also visited rarely seen by the public archives. Treece pointed out only about seven percent of their collection is on display at any given time.

Among the many other places students went Wednesday were Hutchinson Community College’s art department, Dillons, Superior Boiler… where the students each made a penny bank they took home with them… a salon and retail store, a local restaurant, and with Reno County Sheriff’s deputies who gave them a tour of the county’s Correctional facility and went out on the road with them,

Cosmo kids
A group of three students holding items from the archives of the Cosmosphere during Disability Mentoring Day (Photo by Lucky Kidd)

Those students had some of the more interesting things of the day. One got to fly a drone, another witnessed a traffic stop, and one other went with her mentor on a call to a school where a student was seen handing something to another, that something turned out to be perfectly legal.

Ad Astra Radio Senior Director of News and Public Affairs Lucky Kidd was scheduled to be one of the Disability Mentoring Day mentors, but the student that was going to shadow him got sick and wasn’t able to take part. Kidd said had the student been able to, they would have spent their day watching the assembly of this story for on-air and online use and learning about the inner workings of one of the largest broadcast groups in Kansas.

Anthony Frischenmeyer, who helps coordinate the day for Beyond Borders, said he was pleased with how the day went. “A lot of students were exposed to employment options they didn’t know about,” Frichenmeyer said, noting one of the students came away from the event with a job offer. “All in all, it’s been a great success and we’re looking forward to another year.”