East Hartford teen makes it her mission to bring music class to students with special needs

HARTFORD -- An East Hartford teen will be honored for bringing music classes to students with special needs.

Melanie Valdes, a senior at Two Rivers Magnet High School and a Girl Scout Silver and Gold Award recipient, will be named the 2016 Young Philanthropist of the Year at the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation 11th Annual Breakfast Friday morning at the Hartford Marriott.

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest achievable and, as a recipient, she chose Unify Music and Movement as her project. She saw a need in her East Hartford elementary school to include special needs children in the music program and performances, so she designed a music program at O’Connell Elementary School to give these children an opportunity to perform in musical productions for the first time. She wrote the music and organized the concerts, which were appreciated by the entire school.

Valdes didn't stop there. She arranged a meeting with East Hartford’s Superintendent to present her proposal for system-wide inclusion of all special needs students.