Shéri Brynard (34 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 the world. 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. She truly believes that all people have the ability to choose to make the best of their circumstances and she is the living example of that.

She is currently an assistant teacher in a Pre-primary school for learners with special needs and she gives motivational speeches all over the world. Shéri tries to change negative perceptions about people with Down syndrome and she is an activist to give all people with Down syndrome the same opportunities they would have had, if they were fully abled. Although she is intellectually disabled and she was brought up 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 ‘n middleclass home in a rather small city in South Africa at a time when there were little to no support in the form of therapy, available.

Apart from the more than 450 public speeches she has presented in South Africa, she did the opening speech at the International Down syndrome Conference in 2012 and she did a key note at the opening day of the International Down syndrome conference again in 2015, in Chennai, India. In March 2013 Shéri addressed an International Conference on International Down syndrome day held in the headquarters of the United Nations in New York and she spoke at the University of Canterbury in the UK in July 2013.

In 2014 Shéri was invited to the Childs World Conference in Abarestwith in Wales (UK) and she gave the main Conference Banquet keynote presentation. Shéri also did another three key note speeches at International Conferences in South Africa and she has also had the privilege to address the delegates at the Oxford Education Symposium in December 2014.

In 2015 she addressed the 4th International Conference on Pediatric Chronic Diseases, Disability and Human Development (ICCD) in Jerusalem, Israel. She also delivered a keynote speech at the international “Women In Academic Leadership” conference in Johannesburg, for which she also received a standing ovation and the delegates gave her a 5 (highest score) for her presentation. She went on to deliver a spotlight speech at the 2015 European Education Conference in Brighton, UK and she addressed another two international education conferences in South Africa. She is the first person with an intellectual disability who has been given the opportunity to speak at all these conferences.
Shéri has had the honour of addressing 9 graduation ceremonies of the University of the Free State, which was attended by about 10 000 people and she received a standing ovation every time. Shéri has also appeared on National television, when she addressed the State President and more than 3 000 guests in Nelspruit. She has also been invited as guest on many shows on television and she had the opportunity to play in a TV production, Binnelanders, a few times. Sheri is currently working on a two-man stage drama which has been chosen to be performed at the Free State Arts Festival on the Campus of the University Free State in July.

She has also been invited to do key note speeches at the following international conferences in 2016. In June she will address the World Conference on Community Nursing in Cape Town and an Education conference in Botswana. A highlight will be when she will do a key note at the 10th European Down syndrome Congress in Istanbul in August and she will address to the World nursing and healthcare Conference in London, UK, as renowned speaker later in August. In October she will again deliver a speech as renowned speaker, at the “9th Euro Nursing and Medicare Summit” which is going to be held at Rome, Italy.


• The Presidential award (the highest award) for people who have made a contribution to the lives of mentally handicapped people in South Africa. This is a national award and the first time ever that a person with a disability received it.
• She was selected by Down Syndrome International to receive the World Down Syndrome Day Award in recognition of her incredible efforts to change the lives and perceptions of people with Down syndrome.
• She was chosen as the first Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year in her category, “Young Movers”, in South Africa, with a disability as well as the first winner ever to receive a standing ovation. There were more than 1 400 woman nominated.
• Shéri was awarded the Optentia Award by the University of North West, in South Africa, in acknowledgement of the contributions she has made in the Southern African context.
Shéri is proud that she was invited by the London University College, to be part of the LonDown project on Down syndrome, in London. Some scientists working on the project are famous for being part of the team that first sequenced chromosome 21 and is now doing cellular research using cells from people with DS to see what we can learn about differences in cellular function, which could point the way to new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Hi, I’m Able the Casual Day mascot and ambassador for disability. I encourage you to see the ABILITY in people and not the dis-ABILITY. We’re all able, we can all live our fullest lives if the barriers are removed. Join me each year, on the first Friday of September and raise funds to support organisations that render services in the field of disability. This year Casual Day falls on Friday, 7 September. Your donation of R10 for a sticker makes a difference and improves lives all across South Africa.

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