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Local kids are creating music with a message – a holiday CD that helps spread the spirit of the season and raises money for a good cause.
Students from the Bluedog School of Acting for Kids in Plantation and children and adults with special needs came together for the project, titled “A Special Need 4 a Holiday.”
"When I first heard about the CD, I was so excited. My mom told me about the kids and I didn't realize they'd be as extraordinary as they are,” said 7-year-old Jessi Kaplan.
Tori Velle, who teaches private singing lessons at the acting school, also works at ScentsAbility. The nonprofit helps give adults with special needs job skills and training so they can support themselves.
All of the profits from the CD, which can be purchased at ScentsAbility.com, benefit that organization.
"At first I was nervous, but I realized this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Michael D'Angelo, who was born with Williams Syndrome.
When the singers, who range in age from 7 to 28 years old, took their talents into the recording studio, Velle said she witnessed something amazing happen.
"It's like no disabilities even existed. Everyone just mixed well. They were singing together, dancing together,” Velle said.
At ScentsAbility, staffers with special needs learn to make candles and earn a paycheck for their work. The nonprofit will open a candle factory in January, but has already helped many adults earn a living by teaching them work skills.
"They're learning how to book-keep how to market, make candles, and they use these skills to continue working with ScentsAbility or do something else," said Velle.
It’s a fundraiser where everyone benefits.
"You really notice they're exactly like us and I think that's really important to know about this project," said 14-year-old Tess Rowland.