Shéri Brynard (40 years old) of South Africa is the only person with Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) who has a tertiary teacher’s diploma (in Educare), without any amendments been made to the course (or special assistance), in South Africa. This was achieved in spite of the fact that her lectures and her study material was only provided in English, her second language. She is also an international ambassador for all people with Down syndrome, chosen by Down syndrome international (DSi) and she meets with the international ambassadors from other countries once a month virtually. She truly believes that all people have the responsibility to endeavour to make the best of their circumstances and she is a living example thereof. Sheri has also been chosen by her Down syndrome peers as their official South African spokesperson (chairman) for a term of four years. She serves as the South African representative on the Down Syndrome International adult group, who meets every month.
She has also been offered an ad hoc position at the University of the Free State, to assist the different role players in a project, to motivate learners of disadvantaged schools in the Free State. The project was terminated when Covid started. She is still planning to addressed the learners and staff of disadvantaged schools if she can get the opportunity. She believes she is an example of a disadvantaged person (intellectually disabled) because no assistance was given to her after she was born. Doctors wanted to put her in an institution and many like her, is still aborted.
She is currently also a full-time qualified assistant teacher at a Primary School for learners with special educational needs and she presents motivational speeches all over the world (virtually and in person). Shéri strives to change negative perceptions about people with Down syndrome and she actively advocates for the rights of all people with any disadvantage to be granted the same opportunities they would have had, if they were more privileged. Although she is intellectually disabled and was educated in the Afrikaans language, she was determined to learn to speak English to be able to reach more people with her story of hope. When she grew up there was little to no support in the form of therapy, etc. available in South Africa.
During the Covid 19-pandemic in 2020/ 2021 Sheri still addressed the following forums virtually:
A presentation at the Nursing Diversity 2020 conference; a global virtual summit on nursing, education healthcare and Covid-19 management and a virtual presentation of an hour, held by the Putney High School for girls in London. Sheri was one of the 4 international Down syndrome presenters of an international training session presented by Down Syndrome International (DSi) and then she also had the opportunity to address the trustees of DSi virtually. She ended her international presentations in November, with a virtual presentation at the 8th Annual Disability Rights Conference, hosted by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
In 2020/ 2021 Sheri has been co-presenter of her own program on Med FM: Who I am for the last more than two years, interviewing many people in the disability sector. She also conducted several Zoom meetings as international representative from South Africa, on the DSi group of international representatives. She addressed the third-year medical students of the University Free State on Zoom and she was interviewed on the Radio station RSG, a National Radio station, Radio Pulpit and Radio Pretoria FM.
She has also been invited on a webinar to be part of a team of people to prepare children (between 2-4years) with intellectual disabilities physically for a better life. Initiative of Paralympic committee, funded by Bill Gates, attending meetings every two weeks. Sheri supported an initiative of Martie Du Plessis School for learners with Physical disabilities, to buy wheelchairs for disadvantaged learners, by buying 12 barrels of play dough for the classes of Lettie Fouche, Special School. Sheri gave a presentation at a webinar of Autism South Africa.
Sheri is one of the presenters of the launch of a National Representative group of adult persons with Down syndrome in South Africa and did a presentation at the World Down syndrome day Zoom meetings in New York and in Geneva. Sheri also addressed the Advanced Short Course on Disability Rights in African Context, presented by die University of Pretoria, virtually. Sheri also did a live presentation for World Down syndrome day, virtually on 15 March and she also did a presentation at the African Down Syndrome Network, virtually on 23 March. On 21 May Sheri addressed the Special Needs Education Conference of the Unity College in Johannesburg. Sheri was also invited to play a talking/ acting part in the TV soapy “Married to Rugby” again in 2021, which again changes the perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities.
|Sheri’s contribution, on what “a family means to people with Down syndrome”, was used on the Dsi web site and her contribution of a flight alone to a conference after Covid-19, was used in the ‘news’ section of Dsi (read the article) In July her video to motivate people with Down syndrome internationally to get vaccinated, was used on the web page of Dsi: watch the video on the left and in August she was a key note speaker at the “World Conference on Advanced Nursing” in London, on a webinar.|
In November she again addressed another group of learners of the Putney High School for girls in London and Sheri was invited to address the “PUBLICHEALTH MEETING 2021” virtually. She was also invited to addressed the World Down syndrome Conference in November virtually and the presentation was very well received. In October she again played a part in “Getroud Met Rugby”, a soapy on SA TV. Sheri was also featured in a TV program about disabilities on TV2, Activated.