Walt Disney World Resort, Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine Host 8th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy to Inspire High School Teens

Steve Harvey, Disney VP Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor, a Dreamer and Minnie Mouse in Disney Dreamers Academy Parade on Opening Day
Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Steve Harvey, Disney VP Tracey Powell, Essence Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor and a Dreamer in Magic Kingdom Parade on Disney Dreamers Academy Opening Day (Photo courtesy of Disney)

From March 5-8, Walt Disney World Resort hosted 100 high school students from across the nation at the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. The teens, who were chosen out of 10,000 applicants, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, where they took part in a once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.

During the 4-day event, participants –  referred to as “Dreamers” – learned important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies, how to build confidence and create fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.

The Academy was founded in 2007 when Disney and Steve Harvey collaborated to combine the ideas from Harvey’s annual mentoring camp for boys with Disney’s concept for a Dreamers Academy.

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Harvey welcomes and encourages young Dreamers (Photo courtesy of Disney)

“Disney is magnificent at making dreams come true,” said Harvey in his welcome address to the Dreamers.  “Dreams are previews of life’s coming attractions.  A dream will propel you to get an education.  Whatever you can imagine you can have.”

During the Dreamers Academy, the Walt Disney World theme parks became vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participated in hands-on, full-immersion “Deep Dive” workshops led by industry experts. Covering a bevy of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology, the Deep Dives do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.

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Neurosurgeon Keyne K. Johnson, MD educated her Dreamers on implanting shunts, discussing cases, in addition to cranial-sacral surgery techniques.

“I actually didn’t know there were other African-American women neurosurgeons. I mean, I knew… but I never met one in real life,” said Fairfield, CA 11th grader Morgan Buckner after her Deep Dive session led by Orlando-based neurosurgeon Dr. Keyne K. Johnson. “So actually meeting one and seeing the work that she does and how she cares for her patients really instilled in me and solidified how I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Buckner added.

Dreamers were also addressed by motivational speakers such as Capital Prep School founder and Principal Dr. Steve Perry, Bishop TD Jakes and Jonathan Sprinkles, celebrities such as E! host Terrence J, gospel great Yolanda Adams, actor Lamman Rucker, Chef Jeff Henderson, former Disney star Coco Jones, and movie producer Will Packer, entrepreneurs, executives and Disney Cast Members who shared their stories and provided insight on charting a positive course and achievement.

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Dr. Alex Ellis and the Young Male Dreamers of 2015 (Photo Courtesy of Disney)

Additionally, the Academy also offered Dreamers instruction on how to present themselves positively via clothing and image in sessions called “Style 101; Young, Fit and Fly” for the young women with Brandi Harvey and Karli Harvey and “Tied to Greatness” for the young men with Dr. Alex Ellis.

“Year after year, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to help students dream big and achieve those dreams,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President of Deluxe Resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell.

ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “ This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level.  Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey represents our commitment to the leaders of tomorrow.”

To find out more about Disney Dreamers Academy, visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com. www.facebook.com/disneydreamersacademy or on Twitter @dreamersacademy.

For behind-the-scenes photos of this year’s event, check out Good Black News on Instagram, FacebookTwitter or Tumblr, and look for more articles here at goodblacknews.org in the coming days.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

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