*Walt Disney World Resort hosted a media luncheon to announce plans for the forthcoming 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy in collaboration with syndicated-radio-show host/author/comedian and philanthropist Steve Harvey, and Essence Magazine, the leading communications company dedicated to African American women, on Friday, October 7, 2011 at the Redeye Grill in New York City.

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Steve Harvey poses with past participants of Disney’s Dreamers Academy at media luncheon in New York City with Essence Magazine. (Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Resort)

Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine is celebrating five years of “igniting lives, dreams and passions of high school students across the United States.”

The delightfully engaging luncheon was held to share exciting news about the upcoming Disney’s Dreamers Academy taking place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida From March 8-11, 2012, for a weekend of special events, educational workshops, personal enhancement and professional enrichment that will unite them with entertainment experts, motivational speakers and world-class business professionals.

Many of the past participants, considered Dreamers, are from the New York City metro area and attended the special luncheon to share with guests their memorable experiences.  Guests lunched on Field Greens and Shaved Apple Salad; Grilled Scottish Salmon (Citrus Beurre Blanc), Porcini Crusted French Cut Chicken Breast (Tarragon Cream Sauce), Pasta with Seasoned Mushrooms (Garlic & Mushrooms); followed by Chocolate Mousse Cake or Banana Cream Pie; Coffee and Tea.

Following an enjoyable eating experience, Annette Gibbs, publicity manager, Disney Destinations, introduced her hard-working staff and special guest lucheoneers Shanece Brown (DDA Class of 2011); Malcolm Bristow (DDA Class of 2008); Dashana Collins (DDA Class of 2011); Berchell Egerton (DDA Class of 2008); Rian Grimes (DDA Class of 2008); and Isaiah Wesley (DDA Class of 2011) who spoke about how instrumental Disney was in making their dreams come true.

Since the luncheon, next year’s lucky winners were announced and let it be noted that the 2012 class of Dreamers are truly an extraordinary group of kids.  These 100 young students come from all over the country, each representing a different path to the Disney’s Dreamers Academy, and each proving that with hard work and a little magic, your dreams really can come true.

The Class of 2012 Dreamers were selected by a distinguished panel of leaders from the communications, education and entertainment industries who judged nominations from parents, teachers, mentors and youth.  In addition to Harvey and Walters-Powell, other judges for the Class of 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy included:

Mikki Taylor (editor-at-large, Essence Magazine); Yolanda Adams (Gospel Music Legend); Terrence J (BET host of 106 and Park); Stephen A. Smith (Broadcaster and Sports Analyst); Dr. Steve Perry (Education Advocate and CNN commentator); Sonia Jackson-Myles (Founder and Author, The Sister Accord); Jonathan Sprinkles (Award-winning Motivational Speaker); Chef Jeff Henderson (Food Network TV host of The Chef Jeff Project); Brandi Harvey and Karli Harvey (co-founders of Young, Fit and Fly).

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Steve Harvey, Mickey Mouse, Michelle Ebanks and Mikki Taylor are surrounded by Disney’s Dreamer Academy Class of 2011. (Photo Credit: Walt Disney World Resort)

Today, Team Disney is working very hard to bring the selected 100 high school student winners, ages 13-19, from across the country who will gather in the world’s most creative classroom, Walt Disney World Resort.  Participants and a parent or guardian will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for the Disney’s Dreamers Academy

Dreamers will travel to Walt Disney World Resort in March 2011, to participate in immersive workshops focusing on a variety of subjects including Walt Disney Imagineering techniques, entertainment, entrepreneurship, and culinary arts.

Disney experts, world renowned entrepreneurs and celebrities will share their blueprints for success, upholding the program’s mission to motivate, empower and inspire young adults.

Since its launch in 2007 by Disney and Harvey, Disney’s Dreamers Academy has shown a world of possibilities to hundreds of teens.  Every year, Dreamers participate in “immersive” workshops that allow them to take a plunge into real-world career scenarios.

Each participant learns important interview skills, communication techniques and networking strategies.  With a focus on hands-on experience and training, Disney’s Dreamers Academy encourages youth to dream big!

“Over the past four years, we have helped more than 400 Dreamers unlock their potential and get started on their journeys in life,” said Disney’s Dreamers Academy executive champion Tracey D. Walters-Powell.  “The fifth Disney’s Dreamers Academy marks another year of continued motivation, education and success.  Harvey and Essence Communications share in our vision of enriching lives.  Everyone leaves this program inspired to live their best life.”

Disney’s Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. The fifth year of this program will prove to be the best yet.  We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold,” remarked Harvey.

Disney’s Dreamers Academy has evolved into a year-round initiative with its informational Facebook and Twitter social media platforms, an interactive website, presence at community-outreach-partner events like the Essence Music Festival, the National Association of Black Journalists Convention, the Bud Billiken Parade, and the addition of the recently formed Disney’s Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group, which consists of various Dreamers Academy event speakers and presenters who serve as program ambassadors.

This year, Dreamers also had the chance to win internships, allowing them the opportunity to test skills learned at Disney’s Dreamers Academy.  Essence Communications president Michelle Ebanks added, “We are excited about the fifth Disney’s Dreamers Academy. This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. This year we plan to go above and beyond to encourage Dreamers.  Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey serves as a firm commitment to the community and leaders of tomorrow.”

Discover the stories behind each member of this class and follow along on their journey as they aspire to make their dreams come true.  For more information visit www.disneysdreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneysdreamersacademy or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dreamersacademy.

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 television game show “Family Feud,” and 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).

Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.

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