Founders Story


The seed of Club 21 was planted in my heart 14 years ago, when my son Jan-Herman was born with Down syndrome, or Trisomy 21. Little did I know that having to raise this baby boy, with challenges, tears and joys not familiar to me, was going to change my life and so many lives around him.


Together we worked very hard – to drink, to sit, to crawl, to walk, to talk, to behave, to live, to accept. I soon realized that this young boy was not eagerly welcomed everywhere. With both hands we held fast to our faith in God, who created Him in my womb. I wanted the best for him and started searching for a school where he could receive specialized education. Jan-Herman attended main stream schools, schools for children with all kinds of special needs, a school for children with ADHD. We tried home schooling. We tried no schooling. Until we came to a place where we couldn’t see the way forward, where there was no way forward.


The seed in my heart cried out for water and I prayed and I waited and I cried until I felt the first drop of water in my heart. Life was given to the seed. God gave life, hope and a new beginning. He made a way, where there was no way. The first class of Club 21 opened its doors in the month of August 2012, with a vision, a logo and a name – given by the Creator Himself.


My desire for Jan-Herman to live a happy and meaningful life, to discover and develop his unique talents that God gave him, to contribute to the community in which he lives, to be included and accepted in a group of friends where he can develop to his full potential, came to fulfilment. I praise God for that. His life, my life and so many other lives are touched and changed every day.


With God on our side, my son with Down syndrome and every other child with Down syndrome in South Africa and the rest of the world – are eagerly welcomed. With God on our side, I know that Club 21’s children will always receive specialized education. With God on our side, I know that the first classes of Club 21 will experience the official opening of the doors of their own Club 21 School.


Izelle Els

Founder and Director

Club 21

South Africa