*For the 11th consecutive year Walt Disney World, along with television host Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine, accommodated highly selected participating students, known as “Disney Dreamers,” for this year’s Dreamers Academy.
The selection process to attend the Dreamers Academy is exceptionally competitive, the Dreamers submitted personal essays detailing their life experiences, achievements, and why they should enroll in the academy.
Out of the thousands of compositions they received, Disney, ESSENCE Magazine, and Steve Harvey’s team handpicked 100 students to attend the four-day, immersive and transformational mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Fresh off its 10th year anniversary, Tracey D. Powell, Vice-President of Pricing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and executive champion of Disney Dreamers remarked at a press conference, “Our last event was absolutely great. We had a phenomenal first ten years so now we have to think about the second decade and what does that mean for the Disney Dreamers Academy.”
She went on to say that there was a meeting of the minds between Disney, Steve Harvey’s group and ESSENCE Magazine to discuss how they can touch and reach the Disney Dreamers in a more meaningful way, so they came up with the campaign Be 100: Empowering Youth to Make Their Dreams Come True.
“Be 100 means many things to many people. For us it is a message to the dreamers to be who they are in reaching for the stars, in going, after their dreams, be authentic, be honest, [and] be everything they want to be for their unique journey,” explains Powell.
(l-r) Annette Gibbs, Walt Disney World Public Relations Manager, Michelle Ebanks, President of ESSENCE Communications, Inc., and Tracy D. Powell, Vice-President of Pricing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and executive champion of Disney Dreamers at the Disney Dreamers Press Conference Orlando, Florida. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch
Michelle Ebanks President of ESSENCE Communications, Inc. added, “Participating in the Dreamers Academy is just a natural. We believe that you go into your essence to what is unique and special about yourself. If you tap into that and own it and chart a course in your life, there are no limitations because there is only one you. There is only one dream that you’ve had as your gift. For our young people sometimes you have to tell them there is a reason why you’re here, and it’s not just to be on social media, looking at your smartphone all day. It’s never too early to set that plan and get to work, and that’s what the academy does, it tells you to dream and then do the work.”
To celebrate the 2018 Dreamers, Disney welcomed them with a parade at the Magic Kingdom. Dreamers had the chance to walk in the procession, ride trollies and floats with notable Disney characters like Donald Duck, all the while holding placards representing their home cities and states, as well as, encouraging phrases like “Great Risk, Great Reward” to the enthusiastic crowd. Following some of the Dreamers were Steve Harvey, Tracey D. Powell, and ESSENCE Editor-at-large Mikki Taylor accompanied by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
(top-bottom, l-r) Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Steve Harvey, Tracey D. Powell, executive champion for Disney Dreamers Academy and Mikki Taylor, editor-at-large for Essence Magazine star in a special parade Thursday, March 8, at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The parade signals the beginning of the 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE magazine. The event, taking place March 8-11, 2018 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)
The Dreamers represent the nation’s best, and they hailed from the midwest, northeast, and the southeast of the continental United States. A quick review of their bios reveals that many have aspirations to be professionals in areas of medicine, business, law, journalism, and entertainment to name a few. Many of these accomplished students have overcome struggles and hardships, yet they still persevere, and as a way to honor them and their aspirations, the Dreamers joined in a Be 100 Welcome Ceremony held at the World Showplace at Epcot. The speakers at the ceremony were Princeton Parker a Disney Dreamer alum, George Kalogridis, President of Walt Disney World Resort, Tracey D. Powell, Mikki Taylor, gospel singer and radio personality Yolanda Adams, Steve Harvey and of course Mickey Mouse.
Steve Harvey offered words of encouragement to the students by saying, “You don’t have to know at this age exactly what you want to be when you grow up that’s not necessary. All we want you to do is open your minds and dream this weekend.” Princeton Parker also echoed Harvey’s sentiments by telling the dreamers, “We brought you Dreamers Academy to educate you and empower you to answer so when life and your dream ask who will you be you’ll respond I will be great, I will be fearless, I will be determined, I will be a dreamer, I choose to be 100.”