The Friends of Children with Special Needs have a couple of inspiring mottos, one is “be humble, respect others, and embrace diversity.” That motto came to life on stage at their 5th annual Special Needs Talent Showcase.
The Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) is a nonprofit established in 1996. It provides assistance to children and adults with special needs, as well as providing support to their families. FCSN’s mission is to help individuals with special needs and their families find love, hope, respect, and support through integrated community involvement. The organization serves special needs individuals throughout the East and South Bay with centers in Fremont and San Jose.
Part of their program is their annual Talent Showcase, which was held in March at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
“We have many returning contestants this year,” CK Lee, President of FCSN. “Their improvement each year is inspiring to … their improvements are driven by their self-motivated desire to achieve something great; this is a skill that the contestants can generalize to shine in other aspects of life as well.”
Lee said he was proud that FCSN’s Special Needs Talent Showcase has become a highly regarded competition in the special needs community.
The showcase judges chose their top three winners that night. The winners each received a cash prize of $500 and three paid performance engagements in the community. The top three performers were out of the 80 performers who participated in the preliminary competition in January.
The winners of the Talent Showcase, in no particular order, were Tyler Ashley-Goldstein, who performed Ain’t That a Kick it in the Head by Dean Martin; Julian Huang, who played Liebestraume No. 3 by Frank Liszt on the piano; and Karina Rose Bengco, who danced to Circle of Life.
Ashley-Goldstein, 14, is a freshman at Stanbridge Academy in San Mateo. He said that he has always had a knack for singing and enjoys listening to a wide array of music.
Huang is currently a Post-Secondary student at the LYNCS job skills program at the Fremont Union High School District. He practices the cello and piano daily and is an active volunteer in the community.
Bengco, 24, has Down Syndrome. Though she was born with low muscle tone, she has taken gymnastics and dancing since an early age. She said she wants people to see her abilities, not her disabilities.
Contestant Ria Sachdev earned the title of Best Showmanship. She sang a fusion song that mixed a contemporary Bollywood song and an English song. Sachdev, 15, said that she wants to be a Bollywood singer and dancer when she grows up.
“Stigma and stereotyping often follow people with special needs, making employment a challenge,” said Anna Wang, Event Chair. “Tonight reminds us that people with special needs have talents.”
To learn more about Friends of Children with Special Needs and their programs visit fcsn1996.org