Citizen of the Month: Hutchinson goes above and beyond for people with special needs

The list of things Kevin Hutchinson loves more than the outdoors is a short one.

On that list are all of the adults he supervises at the Federal Way Community Center, all of whom have a range of developmental and intellectual disabilities. Hutchinson serves as inclusion coordinator for the city of Federal Way. Over the past six years in the position, Hutchinson has found a way to bring them and the outdoors together.

He regularly takes a group of at least 12 on camping trips throughout the year. In fact, Hutchinson just returned from a 72-hour trip on Lopez Island with a group. Hutchinson’s job is not all just fun and games, however. As part of his job, Hutchinson has created a full-service program that includes everything from budget management to job training and teaching life skills.

“We’re really blessed to have this kind of person before us,” Federal Way Parks Director John Hutton said. “The people here would not have these opportunities if it weren’t for his selfless time.”

As inclusion coordinator, Hutchinson serves about 300 people each year.

Life can be confusing and uncertain once an adult with a developmental or intellectual disability graduates from high school, but that is where Hutchinson and other staff at the Federal Way Community Center step in.

Through Hutchinson’s full-service program, graduates can learn all skills necessary to thrive as an everyday adult.

To keep the learning interesting, Hutchinson creates a new theme each month. July was “personal safety” month. Money management, employment skills, STEM and social media are also big ones.

Each topic is conducted in a classroom-like setting, and Hutchinson’s class sizes range from as few as eight to as many as 55. Recently, Hutchinson created and implemented a fitness and sports program.

One of Hutchinson’s newest programs is “dinner and movie.” Adults are taught everything from how to order at a restaurant, to proper tipping.

For Hutchinson, it is important that the adults he helps have as normal of a life as anyone else.

“I look at them the same way I look at myself,” Hutchinson said. “Anything that I do, they would do the same thing. So, any feeling that I have, they feel the same thing, like if I’m mad dinner is taking too long, they are too. They just might not have the ability to express it out loud or show it.”

The services offered, however, are not free. Hutchinson discovered that hardship early on, so he began hosting fundraisers on his own and, over time, he grew close to members of the Kiwanis Club of Federal Way.

“When I started here, few people knew about the inclusion program,” Hutchinson said. “Many people since have gone out of their way to help. I can’t wait to get out in the community and connect with more people because we have so much good here.”

With the help of Kiwanis, Hutchinson hosted the first Oktoberfest fundraising event in 2015, and through it, he was able to create the Parks and Recreation Scholarship Program for adults who needed services but could not afford them.

“Kevin didn’t want road blocks for these people,” Hutton said. “Through his efforts around the community, he is able to afford a large number of people all sorts of opportunities they may not have somewhere else.”

Hutchinson loves the outdoors, and he loves to stay active.

He was a football and track athlete at Lake Stevens High School, and he continued running track at Western Washington University. Hutchinson loves to camp.

He also loves introducing the adults with whom he works to breathtaking sites like Lopez Island.

Being responsible for 12 to 15 adults with special needs for 72 hours with little help comes with its challenges, however. During a weekend trip, Hutchinson gets almost no sleep. He’s up at least every two hours taking a small group to use the restroom. He takes care of preparing and serving all meals on the trip.

Hutchinson is also in charge of navigating, driving and making sure the group stays together.

“It’s hard. It’s tiring,” Hutchinson said. “But those are the things they want to do. They deserve to experience these opportunities just like anyone else. It is crazy. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it for them to go on these adventures.”

Hutchinson has also donated his own money and time to help others abroad.

The first time was in 2010, when Hutchinson went to Capetown, Africa, and worked with a boy in school who had Down syndrome. Hutchinson taught administrators simple ways to understand, communicate and work with the child.

He funded his own trip to Uganda to do something similar in 2012. Then Hutchinson saved up his vacation time for all of 2013 and went to Madagascar in 2014. The goal on these trips was for Hutchinson to help change people’s thinking about the disability, as opposed to trying to change the person with the disability.

“Kevin is a unique individual,” Hutton said. “He just goes well above and beyond what anybody else does.”

Do you have someone you’d like recognized as Citizen of the Month? Email your nomination and why they deserve the recognition to editor@federalwaymirror.com.

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