A Showcase for Special Talents
Story by Erasmo Guerra

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A Showcase for Special Talents

Now in its third year, the nonprofit Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN) will present its annual Special Needs Talent Showcase at the Santa Clara Convention Center Theater on Saturday, March 18, from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

Anna Wang, event organizer and vice president of FCSN, co-founded the nonprofit in 1996 with nine other Chinese-American families, when her then three-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. Today, FCSN has grown to serve more than 1000 multi-ethnic families with children and adults with special needs through a number of programs in the East Bay and South Bay.

Wang said her group came up with the idea of a talent competition to showcase the special talents–rather than the special needs–of the community they serve. “Rarely do they have anyone recognizing them for their ability,” she said. “Rather, they’re judged for their ‘dis’ ability; judged by a measuring stick of what we consider to be ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate.’”

In January, preliminary auditions drew over 80 group and individual contestants. Saturday’s showcase will feature 11 finalists who will compete for three top spots that will include a cash award of $500, a recording session and a professionally produced video.

Each year the event is held, Wang said FCSN highlights the abilities of the special needs community, increasing awareness across the state, and hoping to spread the message to national and global audiences.