WHITE PLAINS – The next time you see a sunflower lanyard at Westchester County Airport, take notice. Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, Westchester County Airport is launching the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program to support passengers with hidden disabilities and accessibility needs. When travelers voluntarily choose to wear a sunflower lanyard, it is a way for them to discreetly inform others that they have a disability. The Program is designed to support all passengers who use Westchester County Airport, and ensure they have a positive travel experience.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “Just because you cannot see a person’s disability, does not mean that it doesn’t exist. It is important that we care for all of our passengers at Westchester County Airport, and in particular in this enhanced way for those with accessibility needs. The Sunflower Program will help people with hidden disabilities inform others – through the use of their lanyard – that they may need additional support services, which we are happy to provide.”
A few key points about the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program are as follows:
• Passengers who voluntarily wear a sunflower lanyard do not need to disclose their disability.
• Wearing a sunflower lanyard will not expedite you through TSA security screening.
• Passengers are able to use their sunflower lanyards and other products at other airports and businesses that support the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower.
Airport Manager April L. Gasparri said, “Westchester County Airport community is thrilled to launch this important program. With over 750,000 departing passengers projected for this year, I’m certain we host many travelers with hidden disabilities. Inclusivity is part of our County’s fiber; it’s only natural to make it organic in an airport travel journey.”
Federal Security Director Robert Duffy said, “The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a proud supporter of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program. Today, we at the TSA are pleased to assist the leadership of the Westchester County Airport in starting this very important and highly successful program at HPN. We at the TSA constantly strive to provide thorough and effective security screening at all airports in a professional and respectful manner. The use of Sunflower Lanyards will help us to better serve the needs of the traveling public by bringing to our attention those passengers who may require additional time and assistance as they pass through our security screening checkpoints.”
Director of the Westchester County Office for People with Disabilities Evan Latainer said, “Here is another example of Westchester County working with the disabled community in providing valuable resources to a customer base that utilizes everyday services here in Westchester. The Sunflower Program provides passengers who happen to need assistance a subtle way for airport staff to recognize that the wearer might need some assistance to navigate through the airport.”
Chairperson of the Advisory Council on People with Disabilities Carin Horowitz said, “The Sunflower Lanyard Program is just one of many ways in which the Westchester County Airport is working to address the needs of people with disabilities coming through its doors. As the Chairperson of the County Executive’s Advisory Council on People with Disabilities, we are excited to propel our partnership with airport leadership to move these initiatives forward that increase accessibility and awareness at the airport.”
President and CEO of Skyqueen Enterprises Millie Becker said, “I speak from personal experience when I say The County has been a leader and a model for Autism Early Intervention. Westchester County Health professionals led our family to the resources and guidance we needed to help our son John learn and grow. As a proud member of the airport community I am grateful to the County Executive and the Airport Manager for bringing the Sunflower Lanyard Program to HPN. Traveling is a stressful experience and now families with Special Needs will know the airport has the resources and to make their experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.”