HATS OFF: Victoria Giuricich passed several subjects.
HATS OFF: Victoria Giuricich passed several subjects.

Teen with Down syndrome and a dream is on a roll

By Tebogo Monama Time of article published Jan 3, 2018

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Nineteen-year-old Victoria Giuricich is proof that having an intellectual disability shouldn't stop one having big dreams.

Victoria, from Brescia House School, has Down syndrome and is one of the few candidates with an intellectual disability to reach matric.

This year Victoria, who describes herself as a "drama queen", wants to continue living out her dreams.

Next week she is going to start a six-month course at a modelling academy and is also practising rhythmic gymnastics in the hope of qualifying for the Special Olympics. These are Olympics where people with physical and intellectual disabilities take part. She is also going to volunteer at Friends of Free Wildlife.

“I love being in the limelight, I am a drama queen,” she said.

Victoria said she had a busy but exciting matric year. She had to juggle school work and doing her apprenticeship at a hair salon.

“I love doing my own hair. I want to have my own salon and work in the mornings and have the afternoons off,” she said.

For her schooling, Victoria attended school with her facilitator, Lauren Winiecki, who attended classes with her and assisted her with school work.

Victoria took life sciences, art, life orientation and religious education with her classmates. She also took English and maths through the Abet system but did not write the National Senior Certificate like her peers.

She has completed her English level 1 and still has to do level 2 and maths level 1. The geography curriculum was designed for her understanding.

Victoria also attended all the extramural activities on her own. She will not go back to Brescia but will do her voluntary work.

Winiecki said they wanted Victoria to be around her peers.

“She has been great in that she has been able to model 'normal' behaviour. As she was one of the few children with intellectual disabilities to go through the mainstream system, there have been a few issues, but we deal with them as they come.”

One of the issues is bullying, but Victoria said she had learnt to defend herself. “I also have friends who stand up for me.”

Her favourite subjects are physical education (PE) and consumer studies.

“PE was fun. We did running, netball and tennis. In consumer studies we made cake and Greek salads, and that was so much fun.”

Victoria’s other love is art. She works mainly in oil paint and marbling. For her matric year she made art that raised awareness about Down syndrome.

“Brescia really helped us in Vicky’s journey in becoming aware of herself," Winiecki said. "They gave her the stage in March to dance and do a speech to create awareness on Down syndrome. There was already a lot of awareness with Vicky being around.”

Brescia House principal Bene- dikte Nott said that while the school was not a remedial school, they made every effort to include pupils with learning difficulties and other disabilities into their school.

“Special arrangements may have to be made for them, such as careful subject choice and activity selections, additional lessons, referral to therapists and other specialists and perhaps the services of a personal facilitator.”

Nott said the Catholic school believed every child must be developed to their full potential.

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