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Ms Shéri Brynard, a 30 year-old South African woman from Bloemfontein who has Down's syndrome, has set new boundaries for people like her by qualifying as an assistant-teacher in a public school and becoming a motivational speaker nationally and internationally.
She became the first, and still is, the only person in South Africa with Down's syndrome who has received a tertiary qualification when she graduated from the National Technical College in Bloemfontein. This qualification followed after she was also the first child with Down's syndrome to, 23 years ago, to attend and successfully graduate from a mainstream school.
Ms Brynard looked different from the other learners and had to endure mockery and exclusion, but this did not discourage her from her goals. Today she strives to give people with Down's syndrome and/or other intellectual disabilities a voice.
Her achievements have changed perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities and she has become a beacon of hope for them and their parents.
Because of her progress, schools are now more willing to give learners with Down's syndrome a chance in mainstream classes.
Recently, Ms Brynard passed an audition for an acting role in the television production, Binneland, which is another achievement that will make society aware of the potential of people with intellectual disabilities and open more doors for them.
Ms Brynard continues to try and create opportunities, which were denied to her when she was younger, for others. She works hard to break down the prejudice of society against people with intellectual disabilities by accepting frequent invitations to share her story at schools, businesses, churches, youth development programmes and conferences in South Africa and abroad. She donates some of her earnings from the motivational talks to support disadvantaged learners at the school where she teaches.
She is also part of a self-advocacy group in Bloemfontein where she assists the facilitator to help people with intellectual disabilities to be aware of their rights
Nationally she has received numerous Awards that includes the
Presidential Award, which goes to a recipient who has made a contribution to the lives of mentally handicapped people in South Africa. When it was awarded in October last year it was the first time ever that a person with a disability received this Award.
Internationally she recently received recognition by Down's Syndrome International. The World Down's Syndrome Day Award will be bestowed on her for her incredible efforts to change the lives and perceptions of people with Down's syndrome.
Three finalists have been announced in each of the five categories of the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award.
The names of the judges who will select this year's Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year, have been announced.
As the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year Award enters its judging phase, the winners of 2011 tell of how they are utilizing the prize money received from the Shoprite Group of Companies, to enhance their work and build a better future for the people of South Africa.
Women of the Year Office
Tel: +27 21 980 4285 / 1570
Fax: +27 21 983 5222