*Lake Buena Vista, Fl. – 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 of run.
They came to “the place where dreams come true” on a quest to elevate their aspirations, to kindle new dreams during a weekend filled with challenging “Deep-Dive” educational workshops, heartfelt words of encouragement and candid advice.
An all-star line-up of entertainment and sports figures, motivational speakers and world-class business professionals headlined more than 20 personalized and interactive “Deep Dive” sessions that allowed the students to become fully immersed in various career experiences. The interactive workshops educated Dreamers in fields ranging from Marine Biology to Journalism, to 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, who along with Essence Magazine and Disney World hosted the teens from 22 states and the District of Columbia, 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.”
Additional encouragement came from popular entertainment mogul Raven Symone during her commencement speech that concluded the four-day event (March 3-6, 2011). Responding to a student who stated 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 dim. ‘Iconic’ is timeless.”
Essence Magazine’s Editor-at-Large, Mikki Taylor, delivered a passionate speech, offering sentiments on being optimistic: “Don’t let what you don’t have get in the way of what you do have and what you want to possess. You have everything you need. Keep positive people in your life. Your relationships are your wealth.”
The commencement also included remarks from Award-winning Gospel music icon Yolanda Adams, Disney’s Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell, Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks, Coca-Cola North America Senior Brand Activation Manager Stella Ringer, and Jostens Senior Manager of Market Development Gloria Garcia.
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 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”
- Dreamer Role Model “The Dreamer with the most incredible journey and potential”
“I aspire to be a lot,” said Brenaea Flucas, 16, of Willingboro, New Jersey, who participated in the Language and International Studies session. “I want to be an international translator and a Senator that helps improve America’s education system.”
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.
About Walt Disney World Resort / The Walt Disney Co.: Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation center located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando. The Walt Disney Co. has a rich legacy of creativity and exceptional storytelling that brings families together in unique and memorable ways. Creative excellence is coupled with a strong commitment to community service and diversity. The Walt Disney Co. is dedicated to making a positive impact in communities around the world, with a primary focus on brightening the lives of children.
About Steve Harvey: Steve Harvey began doing stand-up comedy in the mid-1980s, which eventually led to a long stint as host of “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” His success as a stand-up comedian led to multiple TV sitcoms, including “Me and The Boys”, “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Steve Harvey’s Big Time Challenge.”His first book, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,” quickly became a bestseller in 2009. Harvey has appeared on “The Oprah Show,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Currently, Harvey hosts the nationally syndicated “Steve Harvey Morning Show” which airs in over 60 markets and has over 7 million listeners.
About Essence Communications Inc.: Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) is the number one media and communications company dedicated to African-American women. With a multi-platform presence in publishing, live events, and online, the Essence brand is “Where Black Women Come First”. The company’s flagship publication, ESSENCE magazine, is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for African-American women, generating brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood, Window on Our Women (WOW I & II) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD).
About The Coca-Cola Company: The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands. Led by Coca-Cola®, the world’s most valuable brand, the Company’s portfolio features 14 billion dollar brands including Diet Coke®, Fanta®, Sprite®, Coca-Cola Zero®, vitaminwater®, Powerade®, Minute Maid®, Simply® and Georgia®. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company’s beverages at a rate of 1.7 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, support active, healthy living, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.
Walt Disney World Public Relations
Burrell Communications Group