#CelebratingDownSyndrome – Dancer & actor, Gopikrishna Varma is living the life he dreamed of
21 March is celebrated as World Down Syndrome Day. In our month long series, #CelebratingDownSyndrome, we bring you stories of youngsters with Down syndrome and their inspiring journey towards being empowered. Today, we feature Gopikrishna, a dancer and aspiring actor who is all set to make his debut in a Malayalam movie.
For 21-year-old Gopikrishna Varma, music, dance and acting comes naturally. Ever since he was a kid, Gopi, who hails from Kozhikode in Kerala, has danced to tunes of songs and loved mimicking actors. A computer geek, Gopi is currently acting in a Malayalam movie which is yet to be titled. He is also an ardent dancer who has performed at various venues. The TikTok videos of Gopi along with his mother Ranjini Varma have gone viral on social media platforms. With the help of his supportive family, Gopi is all set to reach heights. His journey is truly inspiring.
Diagnosis of Down syndrome
Gopi’s mother Ranjini works as a music therapist with disabled children. She decided to choose this profession after her own son was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Ranjini remembers that while she was pregnant with Gopi, she had numerous health issues. When Gopi was born, the doctors informed Ranjini’s parents that Gopi had an extra chromosome. After a few days, they broke the news to Ranjini.
When I heard the news, I felt numb. I knew my pregnancy was complicated. I’am someone who believes in destiny. Gopi’s walking and speech was delayed. Rest everything else was fine. First few days, I was upset. But I wanted to go ahead and give him the best. So I started working on it. I did a lot of research online about Down syndrome. I decided to stand by my son throughout his journey. – Ranjini Varma, Gopikrishna’s mother.
The family consulted renowned Dr Shaji Thomas John in Kozhikode who suggested the family to move to Kozhikode for better and enhanced treatment. “It was under his guidance and support that Gopi could achieve many things. He truly was a life-saver”, says Ranjini.
Just like most families who has a child with Down syndrome, Ranjini and her family has also undergone many stress and tensions. But her husband Kishore Aniyan and daughter Malavika Varma have stood by her through all odds. “There were days when he was hyperactive. Sometimes it was extremely hard to manage him”, says Ranjini
Love and support can do wonders
During childhood, Gopi loved listening to songs and dancing to cinematic music. Since Ranjini herself was a singer, she encouraged her son to experiment with arts.
“One day, I noticed him watching an entire Malayalam movie for the first time. He was mimicking the hero and dancing to tunes of the songs. I noticed he was really good at it. I decided to encourage him”, says Ranjini.
Gopi’s all-time favorite actor is Malayalam superstar Dileep. He loves to imitate the actor and do mimicry too. “I and my daughter started teaching him dance steps. Together, we had a lot of fun. At the same time, Gopi was also learning new things”, says Ranjini.
Journey towards being empowered
Gopi is currently undergoing vocational training at the NGO Nayanar Sadanam under training of Dr Jayaraj. He has also completed a diploma in computers.
Gopi has learnt to do things independently. He loves to do Dubsmash and TikTok videos along with his mother during free time. Gopi has also attended an acting workshop under guidance of prominent actor Murali Menon. He has undergone formal dance training for a month. “Acting is something he always wanted to do”, says Ranjini.
“I tell parents to accept their child’s disability. Then, the path towards empowering them comes easy. Take them outdoors and treat them just like other kids”, says Ranjini.
“Initially, we were upset like most parents. But then we moved on and decided to give Gopi the best and bring him up. We all know that mother child relationship and bond is the most beautiful one. As a husband and father, I always supported my wife because she is the one who empowered Gopi and underwent a lot of mental stress for it”, says Kishore Aniyan.
“We saw the normal in him and it is high time that the rest of the world saw what we have been seeing in him from day one”, says Malavika Varma.
Watch in Sign Language
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