Like any other teenager, Goodwood schoolgirl Shumeez Scott, 17, enjoys taking selfies and blasting Justin Bieber songs through her smartphone.
The only difference is that the bubbly teenager has Down syndrome.
Shumeez, of Lentegeur in Mitchell’s Plain, attends the Filia School in Goodwood, and she has been selected as a finalist in the Face of Ribbons4Roses Angels SA competition.
Ribbons4Roses, a non profit organisation, helps people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Bahia Janodien, Shumeez’s mother, only found out that her daughter had Down syndrome after she was born. The news came as a shock to her, but she was determined to raise Shumeez just like any other child.
“I want to urge parents who have children with the same condition to do the same and to stop hiding their children away. Don’t keep them locked behind doors,” she said.
Ms Janodien raised her daughter as a single mother until she remarried when Shumeez was eight-years-old.
“She has faced quite a few challenges in her life,” she said.
In 2011, Shumeez had to undergo eye surgery and skin grafts after she was hurt in a taxi strike.
“She was sitting in the front of the school bus when a brick was thrown at the bus. It hit her in the face. It took a few months to heal and she only has a small scar on her face at the moment.”
Ms Janodien praised photographer Freda Roetjens for showing the world there is more to her daughter than her Down syndrome.
Shumeez’s sister, Zhuqeelah Scott, 21, said Ms Roetjens had discovered her sister when Shumeez tagged along with her on a photoshoot.
“We went for the photoshoot at Freda’s house in Milnerton in December last year. Freda took a couple of photos of Shumeez and they came out beautifully.”
Ms Roetjens then encouraged the family to enter Shumeez in the Ribbons4Roses (R4R) competition.Shumeez said she felt very comfortable in front of the camera and enjoyed modelling.
“I love make-up, and my favourite colour lipstick is red,” she said.Filia School caters for children with mild to severe intellectual disabilities as well as physical disabilities.
“We currently have 196 pupils and a multi-functional team as well as inclusive educational team to cater to the varying needs of the pupils,” said principal Mandy Mortlock.
“I love school. I enjoy playing golf and drawing,” said Shumeez.
“My best friend is a girl called Lynn and we spend our break times together.”
In her spare time, Shumeez enjoys watching TV series and the Disney Channel. “My favourite show is Hannah Montana starring Miley Cyrus. I also enjoy playing with my friends.”
She encouraged children with Down syndrome to fight to reach their dreams and to always be brave.
Ampie Fourie, the founder of Ribbons4Roses, said Shumeez was the first finalist in the Face of Ribbons4Roses competition. The winner will be announced in February next year.
The competition includes a fund-raiser and is meant to help young adults with Down syndrome become independent adults.
“This is the first competition hosted by Ribbons4Roses, and we hope it will grow from strength to strength,” said Ms Fourie.
Anyone wanting to sponsor Shumeez during the competition or volunteer for the organisation can contact her at 082 722 9544.