By Jennie Wang, FCSN Voices Mentor
Founded with the purpose of amplifying the voices of the special needs community and instilling a sense of community within FCSN’s united families, FCSN Voices has evolved from a printed newsletter in 1997 to a fully-fledged online publication carrying all the strengths of the digital age. Today, the publication features more than 250 articles, accumulating more than 40,000 views and reaching readers across 10 countries. Over the years, FCSN Voices has seen significant growth as a publication and undergone changes in leadership, format, and direction, but has always remained true to its mission of informing readers on issues important to the special needs community.
FCSN’s first printed newsletter was issued in 1997. After a brief hiatus from 2014-2016, it resumed under the leadership of Chief Editor Roger Leung and was renamed the FCSN Dreambuilders. At the same time, FCSN Co-Founder Jim Chiao set up an online presence with FCSN Blog to share information on FCSN related events. In 2020, the two teams with a total of five core members decided to combine and redirect the efforts online and FCSN Voices was born. Capitalizing on youth volunteer Isabella He’s experience in her school newspaper publication club, the team immediately established the Youth Reporter Team and opened up volunteering opportunities for high school students who can contribute their writing talents to help spread FCSN’s message.
As FCSN Voices grew, the team underwent significant organizational and structural change last year, transitioning from a parent led team to a youth led organization. Youth team leaders Isabella He, Jennie Wang, Shreya Johar, and Shelley Li led the effort for this transition, and created new work processes that facilitated collaboration between the editors, youth reporters, and graphic artists. Additionally, new roles implemented into the team such as editors and Graphic Artist Lead this past year opened up more opportunities for leadership positions and chances for young members to make big contributions to the organization. The current core team consists of Jim Chiao and Wei-Jen Hsia who remain as Advisors, steering the focus and direction of the publication; Helen Chou who transitioned from Team Manager into the role of Editor, ensuring the quality of the articles; new Team Manager Jing Bian who makes sure that the projects run smoothly and articles are published in a timely manner; and parent writer Tao Wang who also leads the youth graphics team. This restructuring allowed the team to cover topics in a diverse range of sections to capture as many stories as possible in our community. Twice a month, the whole staff meets to discuss upcoming articles and distribute new assignments onto the reporter and graphic artist teams. Each member of the staff is equally important to FCSN Voices, with writers researching and interviewing community events, editors critiquing and improving articles, and graphic artists designing colorful feature banners to catch the eyes of passing viewers. The team has come a long way from the initial core team of five, today FCSN Voices has grown into a thriving team of 37 passionate individuals.
Although FCSN Voices originally began as a simple newsletter to share information on FCSN events, and then a blog for clients to share their personal experiences within FCSN, the publication now features a diverse range of sections to capture as many stories as possible in our community. During the summer of 2022, FCSN Voices scaled back its publication rate to one article per week instead of two, reflecting the smaller staff size compared to the previous term. However, the articles themselves have not decreased in quality or content. From annual coverages of the FCSN Galas and FCSN’s many seasonal special needs programs, to FCSN’s art exhibits and Halloween events, and everything in between such as parent Q&A’s and FCSN musician spotlights, the publication’s four sections (News/Events, Programs, Spotlight, and Personal Sharings) seek to encapsulate as many diverse perspectives in FCSN as possible. The article topics themselves have also grown more creative since several years ago, with reporters even covering a parent’s experience with her child’s special needs nutrition and food selectivity. Writers also have the opportunity to pitch their own article ideas and abstracts on any topics they’d like to cover within the publication, giving them more freedom to explore their ranges as a reporter and more opportunities to meet new people involved in FCSN.
As the organization continues to mature, the bond of community between the staff of FCSN Voices has only grown stronger, and the future of the organization is promising with talented, skilled reporters and artists taking the initiative to expand the horizons of FCSN Voices. For those interested in learning more about FCSN Voices, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.