Against all odds

09 March 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw

Sheri Brynard, a motivational speaker and the only person in the world with Down’s syndrome who holds a teaching diploma, visited Swakopmund as part of the Stepping Stone Special Education School fundraising initiative.

Stepping Stone was established by Elmarie Mostert in Swakopmund in 2015. The school caters for children with autism although children with Down’s syndrome are also accommodated.

The school currently has 16 learners (ages 2 to 12), two of them have Down’s syndrome and the rest have autism.

Two teachers and four assistants are responsible for four classes divided into age groups, two to three, four to six, six to ten and a class for those who can already do some schoolwork.

“Support for autistic children in Namibia is quite poor. There’s a lack of decent schools for these learners, and there are also no registered specialists or institutions in Namibia that can properly diagnose autism. This leaves parents with no other option but to take their children to South Africa, which is very expensive. ”

She further explained that there are various levels of autism, which need specific types of support and stimulation.

Mostert explained that they invited Sheri to help with fundraising. “I started the school in my own backyard, with only five children. This number grew and had we had to move twice. Our plan is to expand. We purchased land in Ocean View to build a bigger school. We’re in the process of registering as a primary school and need approximately N$4 million to N$6 million to build the school."

In telling her story, Sheri conveys that although she has one extra chromosome she is no different than any other person.

“We should make the best of who were are, and not place ourselves in little boxes, or compare ourselves to others. Always try and stay positive and forget all about the hurt and disappointments of the past. Instead focus on the future.

“Many tried to console my mother with the fact that I won’t live long. This is a misconception and belongs in the past. Our life expectancy is now 60 or even 70 years. Life and death is not in our hands, but we do determine how we live our lives. Each and every one of us should try and make the best of every day. All people die, but not all people live full lives.

“At one stage I wanted to be like my sisters, and do the things they did. I can’t drive my own car, which makes me dependent on those around me. I gain weight very easily so I can’t eat what I want to. Mother told me one day that your happiness depends on the choices you make. You can be happy or unhappy, just as you choose to be. On that day I decided to accept me for who I am. ”

She further said that her parents did not focus on her shortcomings but on the things she could do. “My mother expects of me to do the best I can at all time and not to give up easily.

“We shouldn’t focus on what we are not and what we don’t have but we should work hard to make the best of our circumstances.”

Sheri was the first person with Down’s syndrome to acquire a secondary school national diploma and was also the first to be accepted in a national technical college in South Africa.

“I was treated the same as all the other students, and with the grace of God and hard work I passed my N6 diploma. It wasn’t always easy. I failed many of my subjects, but I never gave up. I tried harder. I knew I had to study harder than the rest but I never felt pity for myself.”

She is currently an assistant teacher at a pre-primary school for learners with special needs. Aside from this, Sheri received numerous awards. She received the Presidential Award which is given to someone who has made a contribution to the lives of mentally handicapped people in South Africa. This was the first time ever that the award was received by a person with a disability.

She also received the World Down Syndrome Day Award for her incredible efforts to change the lives and perceptions of people with Down syndrome internationally and became the first ever person with a disability to walk away with the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year category winner of the “Young Movers” award.

Similar News

 

Taking rhythmic gymnastics to new heights

3 weeks ago - 25 February 2019 | People

Leandrea Louw - Former gymnast, now coach and rhythmic gymnastics club owner Britt Adonis (34) aspires to be Namibia’s first gymnastics judge at the Olympics.Adonis...

Not a pie in the sky

1 month - 11 February 2019 | People

Otis Finck - Uwe and Henrietta “Hetta” Bachmann established Artisan Bread Bakery and Coffee shop in 2011. Uwe hails from Swakopmund and formerly worked in...

Topnaars mourn death of Chief Kootjie

1 month - 28 January 2019 | People

Topnaar chief and Nama traditional council chairperson Joel Seth Kooitjie (65) passed away in Walvis Bay on Thursday evening. According to a relative he died...

Local pianist aims higher

5 months ago - 15 October 2018 | People

Leandrea LouwKarl Philander (18), a learner at De Duine Secondary School, was invited to participate in the University of South Africa (Unisa) South African Music...

Woman walks 460 km along Swakop River

7 months ago - 20 July 2018 | People

After 28 days of walking along the Swakop River, covering 462 kilometres, the 49-year-old Nikola Fahrbach finally arrived at the river mouth at the end...

Local to become first female marine engineer

7 months ago - 20 July 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw Ashlynn Zoe Paulse (25), originally from Narraville, Walvis Bay, is in her final year studying marine engineering in Vigo, Spain. Upon her...

Local learner ready to tackle youth matters

9 months ago - 24 May 2018 | People

Leandrea Louw - Tuilika Andreas, a grade 12 learner at Duinesig Combined School inWalvis Bay, was among the lucky persons to be selected for the...

Theatre industry needs more support

9 months ago - 24 May 2018 | People

Swakopmund raised Vanessa Kamatoto is one of the Namibian Theatre actresses who is putting the Erongo region on the map.The 24-year-old, who is a fourth...

Remembering Father Herman

9 months ago - 18 May 2018 | People

Father Herman Klein-Hitpass (OMI) passed away on 24 April after a prolonged sickbed in Windhoek. Ambassador Wilfried I Emvula paid tribute to the man known...

Fighting for what's right

10 months ago - 11 May 2018 | People

Eusebio Omar van Reenen (21) recently made history when he was chosen as the student association president at the State University of New York at...

Latest News

Plastic bag levy put to...

4 hours ago | Local News

Otis Finck - Money generated from the sales of plastic shopping bags at Superspar Swakopmund and Spar Ocean View was put to good use recently....

Orano Mining donates 22 computers

4 hours ago | Local News

Adolf Kaure - Orano Mining handed over 22 computers with a combined value of N$22 000 to the Erongo regional council (ERC). Orano Mining’s spokesperson...

Linking up Namibia

4 hours ago | Infrastructure

Otis Finck - The minister of works and transport, John Mutorwa, and the deputy minister of national planning, Piet van der Walt, conducted site visits...

School proud of JTC members

4 hours ago | Education

Karibib Private School boasts with four members who are part of the Karibib junior town council. Pictured here, from left to right, are Purity Rukero...

Gone but never forgotten

4 hours ago | Local News

Karl Philander - The community of Kuisebmond mourns the tragic death of young Jackson Iipinge, a learner at Kuisebmond Secondary School who passed away on...

ISWB awards its best

4 hours ago | Education

Karl Philander - The International School of Walvis Bay (ISWB) recently held its inter-house athletics and awarded the best athletes.The Cobras and Scorpions competed against...

Mr Walvis Bay 2019 crowned...

4 hours ago | Events

Leandrea Louw - The fifth annual Mr Walvis Bay competition took place last week with the theme “Biker Boys”. Rowellyn Polster was crowned as Mr...

Thankful for independence

4 hours ago | Local News

Adolf Kaure - The battle for Namibia to gain independence was a long and worthwhile one.Swakopmund-based entrepreneur Nancy Garoes (28), who owns a health studio,...

Growing up in a democratic...

4 hours ago | Local News

Leandrea Louw - The junior town council mayor of Karibib, Gillian Benade, says the joy of growing up in a democratic country is immense.“The amount...

Load More