Born Prematurely with Down Syndrome, Two Women Forge Their Own Paths

Published on: 17 Feb, 2023

Despite being born prematurely and facing physical disabilities, two women have achieved remarkable success. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that determination and resilience can overcome any challenge. In this blog, we will delve into the lives of Divya Shankar, a Bharatnatyam dancer and Karishma Kannan, a visual artist. Read about the incredible accomplishments they have achieved despite the odds stacked against them.

Divya Shankar - The Enthusiastic Dancer

At the young age of 8, while most children are preoccupied with play and avoiding school, Divya Shankar from Ernakulam, Kerala began pursuing her passion for dance. Despite being diagnosed with Down syndrome early in life, Divya has remained committed to her dream of becoming a professional dancer. Over the past 8 years, she has accumulated over 30 performance credits and has become an accomplished Classical dancer, having performed more than 50 times. In 2018, she set a new India Book of Records title, "Girl With Down Syndrome Performing Bharatnatyam," for her 2-hour Bharatanatyam performance. With the support of her family, Divya continues to pursue her passion for classical dance, including Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam.

Click here to book a dazzling performance by Divya.

Karishma Kannan - The Achiever Par Excellence

Karishma, born in India in 1991, received early intervention at Mathru Mandir in Chennai and further developed her learning skills at Srishti Special Academy in Bengaluru. After training in pre-vocational and Creative Movement Therapy at RASA in Chennai, she moved with her family to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2008, where she learned to paint and honed her skills. Later relocating to Bengaluru, Karishma set up her own art studio and founded a recreation center for young adults with Down syndrome called Studio 21 UP.

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In 2011, Karishma held her first solo exhibition, "I Can, You Can, We Can," which was the start of her journey as a contributing member of society. She has since held four solo exhibitions and one auction in India and Vietnam, and donated over 135 paintings, raising over 75,000 USD for charities supporting infant heart surgeries and special education in both countries. Karishma is skilled in using various painting mediums such as Spray painting, Acrylic painting, Water drip Painting, etc.

Her work has garnered international recognition and has been widely covered by both print and TV media in Vietnam and India. In addition, her yoga sessions for young children were featured in the Niki magazine, Japan. Karishma has been awarded the 'World Downs Syndrome International Award' in 2014 and the self-advocacy award from the India International Down syndrome Federation in 2018.

Click here to commission an artwork from Karishma.  

Atypical Advantage is India’s largest livelihood platform for Persons with Disabilities(PWD). Whether it is a singer looking for a show, a visual artist looking to sell their paintings, or job seekers with disabilities looking for career opportunities, it bridges the supply & demand side inefficiencies so that Persons with Disabilities can earn a dignified income. We have a large pool of 15,000+ talents with disabilities and have worked with 250+ corporates within a short span of 3 years. We were also featured on Shark Tank Season 2 and were declared the winner of the prestigious National Startup Award under the social impact category by the Union Government. For more information, visit our website here.

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