Minute in My Shoes: A sophomore working with the physically, mentally disabled

Grace Hunter, sophomore in human development and family sciences, shows her shoes to the camera. Hunter works at Big Lakes Developmental Center with residents who have disabilities. (Natalie Leonard | Collegian Media Group)

Above all else, passion is what drives Grace Hunter, sophomore in human development and family science, to help those around her who have mental or physical disabilities, she said.

Hunter described her experience working with individuals from Big Lakes Developmental Center, a nonprofit organization serving individuals with developmental disabilities, as something she is passionate about.

“This is what I feel like I’m created to do,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she lives her life propelled by her passions, and one of these passions is loving people, especially those with special needs. The origin of Hunter’s admiration for individuals with disabilities is her relationship with her 17-year-old little sister, Adeline, who has Down syndrome.

“She is definitely my best friend,” Hunter said.

Together, the two take delight in pushing each other on the swings, going on frequent runs to Sonic Drive-Ins and cooking up fluffy pancakes on Saturday mornings.

Hunter works at Big Lakes Development Center as a residential advisor for eight clients who have a wide range of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“I love my job,” Hunter said. “There, I am able to love on my clients through preparing meals and spending the day with them. Working with my clients hits so close to home with me because I see them through the same eyes that I see my little sister.”

In June, Hunter said she plans on participating in an internship with the disability ministry Joni and Friends in Uganda. Once she’s in Uganda, she will work with the physically handicapped and provide resources for them and educate them on how to serve children with disabilities.

Grace Hunter and her younger sister, Adeline, say they enjoy going to Sonic Drive-Ins and cooking pancakes together. (Natalie Leonard | Collegian Media Group)

Hunter said she plans to live her life serving the community of those with disabilities and working to make society more inclusive of people with disabilities.

“Inclusion — that is one thing that I am really stoked about,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she wants her little sister and others like her to be seen just like everyone else.

In the future, Hunter said she hopes to see more and more schools adapting their learning styles to kids with disabilities, and she also hopes places of employment hire more individuals with special needs.

“They can give so much to whatever they are a part of,” Hunter said. “They’re such a blessing to our world.”

Change does not just happen, Hunter said. It is forged by powerful, passionate people seeking to make room for everyone in this world and, as a result, making the world better than they found it.