Shéri Brynard (37 years old) of South Africa is the only person with Down syndrome (normal 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. What makes this an even greater achievement is 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). She truly believes that all people have the ability to choose 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).
She is currently a qualified assistant teacher at a Pre-primary school for learners with special needs and she presents motivational speeches all over the world. Shéri strives to change negative perceptions about people with Down syndrome and she actively promotes that all people with Down syndrome be granted the same opportunities they would have had, if they were fully abled. 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. She grew up in a middle class home in a rather small city in South Africa at a time when there was little to no support in the form of therapy, etc. available.
Apart from the more than 680 public speeches she has presented in South Africa and abroad, Shéri addressed an international conference held at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York and she also addressed the United Nations at a Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. She advocated for the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and addressed many policy makers and ambassadors from various countries. Shéri also had the opportunity to present the opening speech at the International Down syndrome Conference in 2012 and she did a keynote speech at the opening day of the next International Down syndrome conference, in Chennai, India. Sheri also addressed the International Down syndrome conference in Scotland where she officially represented South Africa.
Shéri wrote a book about her life (a first for a person with Down syndrome) and the manuscript was accepted by the Lux Verbi Publisher and the book has been launched internationally in English and Afrikaans.
After being the presenter of her own radio show, MEDFM, in Bloemfontein, she has now being invited by a National television channel (Via) in South Africa, to be the first presenter with Down syndrome, to host her own television series. She invites well known guests to tell the viewers about themselves and the work they do.
"I was just emailing to say how much I enjoyed that assembly. That was honestly one of the best speakers I have seen in my 7years at Lord Wandsworth College. A truly inspirational person and a lesson to everyone in overcoming adversity."– James Hampson, Lord Wandsworth College
"'Against All Odds' has been given an opportunity to play on ETV (a South African TV channel). We have selected our most inspiring stories to play at 21:30 on Tuesday 28 May 2013. Sheri’s story will be the leading story on the program. Feel free to watch it again or inform those who may have not watched the initial episode. Sheri has inspired thousands of South Africans and so have you. We received multiple emails of parents who thought that their children had no hope of a future and resorted to isolating them and keeping them away from society. After they saw the episode of how you encouraged Sheri they have changed their entire perceptive on their children with Down syndrome and are taking the Suzette Brynard approach. God bless Sheri and all her future ventures."– Dzivhu, TV Presenter, Against All Odds
"You have not seen resilience until you have read this uplifting story of an extraordinary young South African. Born with Downs Syndrome, Sheri Brynard defied all odds by achieving a teaching qualification and becoming an international ambassador on behalf of those with this genetic condition. The book is also a heart-warming account about the loving relationship between a mother and a daughter as they face down the challenge of Downs syndrome. Their story inspires and educates at the same time, and makes one’s own struggles pale into insignificance. Read with a full tissue box at hand."– Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor of the University Free State
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