If we were all born the same then life wouldn’t be filled with the many twists and turns that make it worthwhile. This is the view of Shéri Brynard (40) from Bloemfontein. Brynard joins this episode of Sisters Without Shame to unpack life as a South African living with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a genetic condition that influences development throughout life. It is one of the most common causes of intellectual disability.
“People with Down syndrome are a little different from others, but they can still live a normal life with full opportunities,” says Brynard.
She graduated with a diploma in teaching and she is a full-time qualified assistant teacher at a pre-primary school for students with special educational needs. Brynard also gives motivational speeches all over the world.
‘Don’t fit me in your box’
Before Brynard was born, her mother, Suzzette was advised to abort her. “In society, people believe that people who give birth to differently-abled children have sinned and, therefore, they are being punished,” she says.
Brynard refuses to be placed in a box of societal standards.
According to Brynard, there are barriers in the whole world, all we must do is to remove them. “I am not superior or inferior to any other human with or without Down syndrome,” she says. “There is no competition between us. I compete with myself, not with other people.”
‘Grateful for my chromosomes’
Brynard believes all people have obstacles to overcome from time to time.
“I never felt sorry for myself, it is a waste of energy. My mission in life is not only to survive, but to thrive. And I do so with commitment and passion.”
In her mission of living beyond her limitations, Brynard has also written a book, Shéri: Just the way I am, about her life. Her book underscores the support and motivation between parents and their children. “Don’t focus on what you cannot do, but on what you can do,” advises Brynard.
She has been chosen as the South African Woman of the Year in the category of youth movers. Apart from that, Brynard has had the opportunity to address conferences in the United States, New York, Geneva and Switzerland. “I have advocated for the rights of disadvantaged people, people with intellectual disabilities, all over the world.”
She adds that she is grateful that her extra chromosome has given her such opportunities.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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