LAKE BUENA VISTA — Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain might have been on their to-do list, but the 110 high school students who came to Walt Disney World Resort for the 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy were on a mission with higher peaks than Disney’s mountain range.
They came on a quest to elevate their aspirations and kindle new dreams during a weekend of “Deep-Dive” educational workshops, words of encouragement and candid advice.
An all-star line-up of entertainment and sports figures, motivational speakers and business professionals headlined more than 20 interactive “Deep Dive” sessions that allowed the students to become immersed in career experiences. Workshops focused on fields ranging from marine biology to journalism, the performing arts and culinary arts.
“Each year, our goal is to equip ‘Dreamers’ with the know-how to get started on their journeys in life,” said Disney’s Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. “Disney’s Dreamers Academy gives these students inspiration to explore the countless possibilities they may never have imagined. Lives are changed at this program.”
Syndicated radio personality Steve Harvey, Essence Magazine and Disney World hosted the teens from 22 states and the District of Columbia.
The students included five from South Florida: Khari Anthony, a ninth-grader at West Broward High in Pembroke Pines; Dalvin McHome, a senior at William T. Dwyer High in Palm Beach Gardens; ZaQuari Johnson, a ninth-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale; Wayne Lyons, a 12-grader at Dillard High in Fort Lauderdale; and Diamond Sims, a senior at Miami Central High in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
Harvey told the students that “dreams are what fuels everything in a person’s life.”
“It makes you go to school, it makes you want more, it makes you obey the law, it makes you think of how to be a kind person, it makes you think before you act so you can anticipate your future,” Harvey said.
Raven Symone gave the address that closed the March 3-6 event. Responding to a student who said his big dream was to become an “iconic celebrity,” the 25-year-old actress said, “Don’t focus too much on the celebrity part. Celebrity lights always [become] dim. ‘Iconic’ is timeless.”
Essence Magazine’s Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor, in a passionate speech, said, “Don’t let what you don’t have get in the way of what you do have and what you want to possess,” she said. “You have everything you need. Keep positive people in your life. Your relationships are your wealth.”
Other speakers included Powell, award-winning Gospel music icon Yolanda Adams, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks, Coca-Cola North America Senior Brand Activation Manager Stella Ringer and Jostens Senior Manager of Market Development Gloria Garcia.
Other notable guests participating in the 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy included NFL athletes Brandon Jacobs, LaDainian Tomlinson and D’Angelo Williams; American Idol’s Ruben Studdard; BET’s “106 and Park” host Terrence J; Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson; Disney Channel’s “Camp Rock” star Roshon Fegan; actors Chris Massey and Tamera Mowry; Curb Records Artist Kimberley Locke; Atlantic Records Artist Cupid; and educational authority Dr. Steve Perry.
For the first time in the four-year history of Disney’s Dreamers Academy, five students were awarded internships, four with this year’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans – funded by Essence Communications, the Walt Disney World Resort and Coca-Cola – and an internship with Footman-Brewer Enterprises, LLC.
Outstanding achievement awards were also handed out to the ‘Disney Dreamers’ in five categories:
Creativity: “The Arts and Entertainment Award”
Courage: “The Community and Public Services Award”
Curiosity: “The Health and Sciences Award”
Confidence: “The Entrepreneurship Award”
For more information, visit www.disneysdreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneysdreamersacademy or Twitter via @dreamersacademy