STLMade Conversations: Grace Strobel

Tell us about you. 

Grace: I’m Grace Strobel and I’m 24 years old. I’m a model, I’m a speaker, I’m an athlete, I’m an advocate.

Linda: And I am Linda Strobel, Grace’s mom and her “Mom-ager.”

Tell us about your presentation, “The Grace Effect.”

Grace: I give talks to schools about struggles and kindness and respect.

Linda: And how many students have we spoken to?

Grace: 3,000 students.

Linda: it’s 45 minutes long, and it’s very interactive. We do lots of role-playing and things to simulate what Grace might go through on a day-to-day basis.

We teach about fine motor skills, and so we have kids putting on gloves and button up T-shirts and, and then what do you say to the kids?

Grace: “Hurry up, you’re going to be late.”

Linda: And we teach about low tone. Low tone is not about strength. It’s about the energy it takes your body to move. And so we have kids sit first in a bean bag chair, then put on a backpack and then try to get up, and they realize it requires a lot more energy.

Why did you become an advocate?

Grace: About two years ago, I was reading in the lunchroom and some kids started making fun of me when they looked at me. That day I felt alone and hated, but I cried so hard, I couldn’t stop. And that is when I decided I wanted to make a difference. And I wanted to share with students what it’s like to have struggles. I wanted to show how we can change someone’s life just by being kind and giving respect.

How have kids responded to it?

Linda: After she goes to these schools, kids send her letters just saying, “Thank you so much, now I understand you should treat everybody the same.” I knew that it was a really important thing to start doing, just because at the time when Grace was being made fun of, I was shocked at first, but I looked at it as, “Oh my gosh, these kids have no idea.” And they’re reacting out of fear. And I asked Grace, I said, “Do you want to do something to help them not to be afraid and, and maybe to understand about what you go through?” And so that’s why we decided just to work together and make this presentation. So kids would understand and not be afraid and could not pity people with disabilities, but actually respect them because of everything that they go through on a daily basis.


“No matter who you are, we want all the same things: to be valued, to be respected, to feel good about ourselves.”
– Grace Strobel

How has your advocacy branched out?

Linda: That’s where the Grace Effect started, and now the modeling is taking off which is pretty cool. Grace is the first American with Down syndrome to represent a skincare line internationally.

It has been a pretty amazing journey. We’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things. You got to be on The Today Show.

Grace: We met Hoda, and then Savannah.

How does it feel to increase diversity through modeling?

Grace: It feels awesome. It’s okay to be who you are. And feel good about yourself.

Linda: Through her modeling and also through her speaking, we get at least two or three comments every single day from people saying, “Thank you so much for paving the way.” It’s bigger than we ever thought it would be. And I think the modeling just puts us up on a bigger platform, and we’re reaching more people with her message.

I feel so happy and thrilled that Grace gets to be a part of changing the landscape for people with disabilities.

What do you want to do in the future?

Grace: To keep on modeling and speaking, and help people rethink what is possible.

What advice would you give to someone looking up to you?

Grace: Be confident. Believe in yourself. Work hard, and never give up.

Thanks for talking with us, Grace and Linda.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity by Lauren Harms Milford

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Keep up with Grace by following her on Instagram.