On Monday night, all voices will be welcome.
One Special World (OSW) will be hosting its first coffeehouse event in the Food Co-op, located in the basement of the University Union, at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13. OSW is a nonprofit organization that raises money and advocates for those with special needs and developmental disabilities.
The open-mic event welcomes any and all performers who want to come — no sign-ups are necessary. Participants can perform a talent or simply share a story about their life or special needs.
“I want people to feel comfortable sharing their message,” said Catherine Castillo, president of OSW and a senior majoring in integrative neuroscience. “If people do have a special need, we want them to feel comfortable sharing their story.”
Those who don’t want to perform are welcome to watch and socialize. There is already a list of scheduled performers that includes singers, dancers, beatboxers and poets.
“It’s a safe space where anyone and everyone can come show off their talents, spread their message or just meet amazing people and have a good time,” Castillo said.
OSW was brought to Binghamton University in 2016 by Danielle Preiser, ‘17. She originally started the foundation at her high school with the goal of starting a group home for those with developmental disabilities. The organization also donates to other special-needs organizations, with the majority of the money going to organizations concerned with a developmental disability called fragile X syndrome, which her brother has.
Aside from raising money, OSW also aims to erase the stigma associated with special needs. The primary message they want to spread with events like the coffeehouse is that everyone has “special needs,” not just in the way they have traditionally been thought of.
“Each individual is uniquely beautiful in their own way and just because a person may have special needs, it doesn’t make them any different from someone who doesn’t,” Castillo said.
This is the first open mic that OSW is hosting, and they hope it will foster the same positive atmosphere they’ve had at other events, such as the multicultural fashion show they had last December.
“I genuinely feel like every event I’ve gone to at One Special World has left me astonished and I walk out of that room with so much love and appreciation for what this organization does,” Castillo said. “I see that everyone in the room just leaves with a smile.”
There is no entrance fee for the open mic, but donations are encouraged. All proceeds will go toward funding the group home project. Refreshments will also be provided.