A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lucille ‘Lucy’ Shae DeSmet named Kentucky State Senate’s first ‘Sunny Page’

Senator Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, had a very special guest last Thursday on the floor of the Kentucky State Senate. Her visit to the Capitol allowed Lucille “Lucy” Shae DeSmet to serve not only as Senator Parrett’s first Sunny Page, but earned her the title of the first Sunny Page in the Kentucky General Assembly.

The Sunny Page Program was introduced by Senator Parrett and Senator Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, during the 2017 session. Its intent was to encourage children with disabilities to participate as pages as well as to make children with disabilities and their families aware of the opportunity and erase any barriers that might prevent them from serving.

“We believed then — and still believe – that this program will enhance the educational experience for children with disabilities through their first-hand participation and exposure to state government and the political process,” said Senator Parrett. “It will increase their self-confidence, self-esteem and their sense of being part of the honored tradition of public service.”

“The Sunny Page Program is a means of welcoming children with disabilities to the Capitol and encouraging their involvement in the legislative process,” said Senator Carroll.

Lucy was all smiles as she joined Senator Parrett in the Senate chambers. A sophomore at Mercy Academy, she is the 15-year-old daughter of Melissa and James DeSmet of Anchorage. She enjoys horseback riding, bowling, volunteering in the preschool at church, and reading.

Lucy, who met Senator Parrett last year at the march for people with disabilities, admittedly enjoyed her day. “(It is) so much fun,” she said, not long after Senator Parrett had introduced her on the floor. And, as to being the first Sunny Page, she said, “It’s very exciting.”

Senator Parrett and Senator Carroll, who both have daughters with special needs, wanted to initiate this program to honor their daughters. They chose the name “Sunny Page” because, according to Senator Parrett, the presence of these children is sure to brighten everyone’s day.

Lucy and Senator Parrett soon struck up a bond and their conversation revealed that she and his daughter, Kristen, have several things in common. They both have had a stroke – obviously, at a young age, they both love to eat at Red Robin’s, and they both love the Kentucky General Assembly. The two also like Senator Parrett and think he is a good senator.

Students with disabilities have always been able to participate in the Senate page program. However, the “Sunny Page” Program is designed to teach and further promote the process of state government to children with disabilities.

“After successfully launching this program in 2017, Senator Parrett and I are hopeful we will be able to build off the momentum from last Session by increasing the number of sunny page participants in 2018,” said Senator Carroll.

Since Lucy paged last Thursday, there has been another Sunny Page in the Senate and 25 more scheduled to come next week.

“I am very excited that the program is getting off to a great start,” added Senator Parrett. “With the help of the Family Resource centers in the schools, the word is getting out.”

For additional information about the Sunny Page Program, contact joann.pensinger@LRC.ky.gov or donna.holiday@LRC.ky.gov.

From Legislative Research Commission

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