Two things that I encourage my kids to do daily are to dream big and to be fearless. I want them to understand that their race, gender, family history aren’t barriers but rather springboards for them to become great, to live the life they desire even if it seems impossible. Whether it’s taking them to another part of the world or letting them try out a new extracurricular activity, I give them space — even as little kids to dream and explore. So, it’s inspiring when I see programs that inspire and give kids the resources and tools to go after big goals fearlessly. One of the programs that do this exceptionally well is the Disney Dreamers Academy. When I received an invitation to the Disney Dreamers Academy “100 Minutes to Empower Your Dreams” seminar at the iconic Schomberg Center, the first event outside the Disney Parks, I had to attend. If you’re not familiar, the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine and is a four-day immersive all-expenses-paid educational experience for 100 high school students ages 13-19 to dream and more importantly create a plan for their dreams to become a reality alongside with industry leaders, celebrities and Disney cast members.
Attending this seminar wasn’t just great because I got to behave like I’m ten again and giggle next to Mickey Mouse but it helped me to understand the impact of this program. I had the chance to speak with three of the program’s alumni who shared that the program gave them tools and mentors to help them realize their dreams.
Alongside, the New York City high school students in attendance, I got a taste of the inspiration attendees of Disney Dreamers Academy 2019 will get from motivational speakers, Brandi Harvey, and J. Sprinkles. They encouraged the kids by sharing the importance of a winning mindset and going after their goals even if they’re fearful. It was an inspiring experience even for me as an adult, and I saw the kids who came in excited to meet Mickey Mouse, leave excited to live their dreams.
One thing I learned as an adult is that we need mentors and a plan outside of education to achieve our goals. It was a hard lesson but fortunately, there are more resources for the next generation, and I believe it starts with having the right mentors, people who have walked the path and are thriving in the careers. That’s what Disney Dreamers Academy does, the 100 kids all get the individual attention they need to flourish, receive encouragement and pursue their dreams even when the going gets tough. During her beautiful speech, Julee Wilson, the Fashion and Beauty Director of ESSENCE shared her story of how she found her way to her dream job. She shared her story of courage and fearlessness — an encouraging testimony to the high school students to keep going even when the going gets tough.
I think my favorite thing about the Disney Dreamers Academy is that the #Be100 will get to meet and build relationships with professionals who look like them, including Disney Executive Champion Tracey Powell, who spoke at the seminar. Representation matters to young people, seeing someone else who looks like them doing what they dream of doing lets them know that their goals are possible.
I believe that this is a program that will be beneficial to young people and I texted all my friends with kids in this age group to encourage them to apply. I’ve even told strangers to have their kids apply because I know it will positively change their lives. There are only 100 spots so have them apply here, the deadline is on October 31, 2018. They will have to write an essay themselves, one of the tips was to truly allow the kids to write it themselves so Disney Dreamers Academy can get a real sense of who they are and their dreams. This experience will not just be work but also lots of play Walt Disney World for four days and their parents wouldn’t have to pay a cent. An awarding experience where they can network, form lifelong friendships, meet mentors and receive the tools to achieve their dreams. Good luck to your little ones!