Enjoy a (free) Sunflower Summer

Children and their guardians can enjoy free tickets to attractions across the state thanks to the Sunflower Summer program.



July 21, 2021 - 7:40 AM

A hearty huzzah and kudos to everyone enjoying a Sunflower Summer.

This new initiative from the Kansas State Department of Education uses COVID-19 relief funds to provide free admission to 70 attractions across the state. These include museums, theaters and landmarks — among them the Kansas Museum of History, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, the Evel Knievel Museum and so much more.

The program launched on July 1 and has already put up impressive numbers. According to the KSDE’s Twitter account: “In the first 11 days there were over 6,000 site visits. The app has 53,000 registered users.”

This is tremendous news for Kansas in so many ways.

Most obviously, it’s a terrific opportunity for kids — after a school year either spent at home or constrained by COVID-19 restrictions — to get out and explore their state. It’s also a tremendous way for families to spend time together enjoying all our state has to offer. Both audiences also stand to benefit from a deeper and more profound understand of the environment and history of this state that we all love so much.

But it doesn’t stop there. It’s also an economic development bonanza, bringing in audiences for venues that have all faced challenges of their own over the past year and a half. Direct aid from the government was critical, of course, but boosting audiences through a program like Sunflower Summer actually gets them back to doing what they do best.

We can see the number working on the ground, too. In the first two weeks of the program, Topeka’s Kansas Children’s Discovery Center had 113 families, including 144 adults and 234 children, use the program. That’s impressive.

With this being vacation season, it’s unfortunately common to hear about friends and families heading off to far-off locales or, at the very least, Colorado. Their pictures clutter our group chats and social media feeds. And while we can understand the allure, let’s not forget our own state.

KSDE should be commended for its ingenuity and civic-mindedness in creating the program.

And the best part? It’s still going on. You can learn more about it at www.sunflowersummer.org, and find the app in both the Apple and Google Play stores.

Topeka Capital-Journal