Naomi Hunting has been a volunteer at the Escalante Valley Elementary School in Beryl, Utah for the past nine years. She affects most people who enter the door of the school, leaving a lasting impression on those she meets.
Hunting is a 30-year old woman with Down’s Syndrome. She attended Escalante in her youth, and now she is there giving back in various capacities. She keeps the children in their seats, and if someone is crying and needs a hug she is right there to help them. Hunting also speaks to the children and shows them how to behave properly on the school bus so they can enjoy their ride and arrive safely. She provides guidance on how to keep their hands to themselves, sit still in their seats and keep the noise level down. Hunting helps with the preschool and kindergarten students. These 3-6 year olds travel approximately 15 miles each way.
Hunting also volunteers in the school cafeteria. There she sets up tables and places salt and peppershakers out on the tables for the children. She is available when the schools need her, and the bus driver states that Hunting keeps her on track with the children and they make a great team.
Hunting takes her service very seriously, and she considers her volunteer work her job. She has gained many friends and helped the young students just entering into the educational system feel comfortable and at ease. In addition to working with the bus and in the cafeteria, Hunting does a little more during the holidays. She dresses up for Halloween and passes out Valentines on Valentine’s Day. She loves being with the children and it is evident in the smiles she receives from the students and the words of appreciation she gets from the staff at Escalante Valley School.
Hunting is one of 350,000 Americans living with Down’s Syndrome. She proves that those afflicted with this condition can live with their families and be active participants in the educational, vocational, social and recreational activities in their communities. Hunting is an inspiration to many and especially those with disabilities, the children she serves and the teachers and staff at the school.