WATCH: Educator with down syndrome inspires, finishes many courses amid pandemic
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo (Philstar.com) - November 18, 2020 - 6:40pm

MANILA, Philippines —  “Born with Down syndrome, Brina has spent her life proving the world wrong.”

Such is how sports-oriented organization for children with special needs Special Olympics introduced one of its global ambassadors, Filipina educator Brina Maxino, in its website. It is because right from birth, Brina has fought for her life despite the odds.

“At nine days old, the doctor told my parents I can’t live long because of a hole in my heart,” Brina, who is now 24, recalled during a recent “Smile Strong” Facebook live video campaign held by dental care brand Colgate.

“In Grade 5, teachers told me that I can’t be in school because I have low IQ,” added Brina, sharing that when she turned 10, a psychologist said she might be unable to finish grade school because of her condition. She also fell prey to bullying.

“They excluded me from their games because they thought I was too slow. There were schools that did not accept me because I was not smart enough.”

But when she became 16, not only did Brina graduate from a general education high school; she was even hailed as class valedictorian.

According to her, thanks to her family’s love, patience and support, she also finished a bachelor’s degree in History at 20 years old and has completed several other courses since.

“As early as eight years old, I had been into therapy. My parents were really patient to teach me every day. My parents taught me that if I work hard, I can overcome any disability,” she shared.

“My dad always told me that I’m the best kid in the world and that helped me be confident. My dad always makes me strong and makes me laugh; he sings happy songs.”

Now an assistant teacher in Parañaque, Brina assured people like her that there is hope – and with love and acceptance, anyone can achieve anything in society.

“Despite my condition, I was able to fulfill another dream, which is to inspire other people,” she enthused.

“My faith in God enables me to achieve. God keeps me going because He shows that I have purpose in my life – to work for inclusion and acceptance of special kids in the Philippines.”

Brina is among the muses of Colgate’s new “Smile Strong” campaign, which highlights and celebrates the remarkable efforts and achievements of inspiring people like her, while encouraging the optimist in everyone to take action with a bright smile and win the hearts of others in the process.

“Every day, people with intellectual disabilities suffer rejection and ridicule because others think we are not good enough. They are wrong," Brina stressed.

"We can do more and be more, if only the world gives us a fighting chance."

RELATED: WATCH: How Candy Pangilinan overcomes challenges as single mom of child with special needs

DOWN SYNDROME SPECIAL NEEDS
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