Heartwarming: Head Boy Takes Friend with Down Syndrome to Matric Farewell, Celebrating True Friendship
Photo Cred: Michelle Sewell | Supplied

A heartwarming story of how the now Head Boy fulfilled a Grade 6 promise, taking a lifelong friend with Down Syndrome to Matric Farewell, emphasising the power of compassion and true friendship.


Mpumalanga, South Africa (31 August 2023) – In a heartwarming display of compassion and true friendship, Jaden, the Head Boy of a local high school, recently fulfilled a promise he made back in Grade 6. Jaden’s lifelong friend, Jumi (Joumari), who has Down Syndrome, was the recipient of this beautiful gesture that transcends differences and exemplifies the power of kindness.

Jaden and Jumi’s story is one that began in their early years. They met as nursery school classmates and their friendship blossomed over the years. From sharing the same classroom to navigating the challenges of high school together, their bond only grew stronger with time.

A pivotal moment occurred in Grade 6 when Jaden unexpectedly told his mother about his plan: “Mommy, I’m going to take Jumi to our matric farewell.” It was a simple statement, but it spoke volumes about Jaden’s compassion and his deep connection with Jumi.

As years passed and Jaden entered Grade 12, the memory of that promise remained alive. Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jaden’s commitment to his childhood pledge endured. Michelle, Jaden’s mother, recalls the moment when Jaden brought up his long-standing promise.

“On the 23rd of April, that little Grade 6 voice saying ‘Mommy, I’m going to take Jumi to our matric farewell’ hit me,” she shared.

She asked Jaden about it, and with a smile, he confirmed that he had been contemplating it for some time.

With determination and a heart full of goodwill, Michelle and Jaden took action. They reached out to Jumi’s mother, Gerbie, to organise the special moment. The day arrived when they went to Jumi’s farm with balloons, flowers, a pink milkshake, and sweets, all prepared in Jumi’s favourite colours – pink and purple.

Amid this colourful display, Jaden posed the question that had been a decade in the making: “Will you make me the happiest man and go with me to the matric farewell?” Jumi’s heartfelt “ek sal” (Afrikaans for “I will”) sealed the deal, and the joy that ensued was palpable.

Heartwarming: Head Boy Takes Friend with Down Syndrome to Matric Farewell, Celebrating True Friendship
Photo Cred: Michelle Sewell | Supplied

What makes this story even more remarkable is the contrast between societal expectations and the power of genuine friendship. Jaden, the Head Boy and a first-team rugby player defied convention by choosing Jumi as his matric farewell date. Jumi’s Down Syndrome, a condition that sets her apart, was not a factor for Jaden. Instead, he saw his friend for the wonderful person she is and recognised that everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

Jaden’s mother emphasises that this act was not about seeking attention; it was driven by “pure humanity, kindness, and love.”

She explains that Jumi, like any other student, deserved her matric farewell. Jaden’s decision was a testament to his character and values, which have always reflected fairness, compassion, and acceptance. His act of kindness sent a resounding message that our differences should never dictate our worthiness.

The ripple effect of Jaden’s gesture extended throughout the school community and beyond. People from all walks of life were moved by the story, with tears in their eyes and words of admiration on their lips. The teachers and students at the school rallied behind the idea, celebrating the power of friendship and inclusion.

Heartwarming: Head Boy Takes Friend with Down Syndrome to Matric Farewell, Celebrating True Friendship
Photo Cred: Michelle Sewell | Supplied

As Jaden and Jumi prepare to embark on their respective paths, the impact of this act of kindness remains imprinted on their hearts. Jaden’s legacy as Head Boy and rugby player will undoubtedly be enriched by this meaningful experience. As for Jumi, she’s a symbol of the fact that every individual, regardless of their differences, deserves to have their dreams honoured and celebrated.

In a world that can often be divided, this heartwarming story reminds us all to embrace the values of kindness, acceptance, and friendship. Jaden’s promise, fulfilled with love and dedication, serves as an inspiration for everyone to be a little kinder, a little more accepting, and to recognise the beauty in every unique soul we encounter.

Just as Michelle aptly puts it, “Just be kind!”

Heartwarming: Head Boy Takes Friend with Down Syndrome to Matric Farewell, Celebrating True Friendship
Photo Cred: Michelle Sewell | Supplied

Sources: Interview With Michelle Sewell 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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