When I received the invitation to the 10th Anniversary of Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World with Steve Harvey & Essence Magazine, I was OVERJOYED! I was excited to witness history in the making for 100 teenagers & their parents.
I was excited to listen to young adults share their dreams and discover the possibilities to make them happen. I was excited to listen to entrepreneurs, executives, celebrities, and CEOs speak into their lives so when they return home, they would never be the same.
I will never be the same.
Image source: @MomsnCharge
As a member of the media team, I was able to experience on March 9-12, 2017 the 10th Anniversary of the Disney Dreamers Academy from a different perspective. This year was special because it marks the year that 1000 students have officially went through this experience.
Amazingly, 10 Alumni (1 from each year) were brought back this year to talk about life after Disney Dreamers Academy. Not only are these young adults doing great things with their lives & the community, they are excited to pour into the lives of the current class.
Hosting Disney Dreamers Academy is a Big Deal
Steve Harvey, best selling author, comedian, national syndicated talk show, radio, & game show host has partnered with Disney Dreamers since the very beginning. He believes in the importance of dreaming big and starting early. Steve initially had a mentoring camp for boys & Disney had an idea for a Dreamers academy that they hadn’t got off the ground just yet. After meeting with each other, the Disney Dreamers Academy was born in 2008. 10 years later, upwards of 10,000 + applications are received every year (statistically, according to Jonathan Sprinkles it’s harder to get into Disney Dreamers Academy than Harvard).
Steve explained to us that if schools had a dream course in school, the dropout rate would decrease. It’s important to speak with a child every 30 days about their dreams.
Image source: @MomsnCharge
Tracey Powell, Disney Dreamers Executive Champion explains the secret to getting accepted into the Disney Dreamers Academy is simply be able to articulate your dream.
You must be able to convey your dream and be specific.
During the 4 day event at Walt Disney World at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, FL, I kept my pen and paper by my side. I wrote so many notes, takeaways, nuggets, aha’s, and just plain ole good stuff that I’m busting at the seems to share it with you.
Takeaways, Nuggets, and Aha Moments:
Princeton Parker (DDA Alumni Class of 2011) shares 3 things Dreamers care about:
- How to broaden their perspective – not a title but a mindset
- Concerned about people – how they can help effect people understand the people before and after.
- Concerned about purpose – when purpose is not known, abuse in inevitable.
Tevyn Cole (DDA Alumni Class 2008) shares Dream advice to the class of 2017 on how to make the best of the 4 days Disney Dreamer experience.
- Network more – utilize the time you have.
- Take every opportunity of everything and everyone.
- Get to know each other’s story.
- Find a mentor.
- Don’t limit yourself. Don’t put yourself in a box.
- Create your own opportunities.
- Your vibe attracts your tribe!
- Be comfortable with being you.
Jonathan Sprinkles dropped so many tweet-able nuggets, my hands stayed in tweet mode! Feel free to tweet a few out yourself.
- Have you ever met a hater that was doing better than you? Consider the source.
- Critics without credentials – pleasing people who’ve never been there will never get you there.
- Everyday, spend time in your dream.
- I don’t expect you to hear me, until you know me. You see the fruits, but let me tell you about the roots.
- It’s not where you start, but where you choose to finish.
- Never play the victim in your life story.
- Dreamers process things differently.
- If you can not see it, before you can see it – you will never see it.
- Your strangeness is your genius.
- Your dream comes in pieces.
- If you only focus on the what if, based on fear – you’ll never realize your dream.
- Keep it real, or just keep it.
One thing that was obvious, is that the all of the speakers were fully engaged with these teens. The teens asked questions, took notes & selfies!
This event had so many moving parts, it was hard to keep up. There was always something to do, but the cool part was that it’s Disney! Disney does everything with style and magic.
It was easy to see the magic in the eyes of these children & their parents.
This years commencement speaker was TJ Holmes, Good Morning America corespondent. He shared his story which gave us all a better understanding of him and why it’s important to stay the course.
Overall, the weekend had the best theme – follow your dreams, they are important. It could not be stressed enough. If I would have had this opportunity as a high school student, I would be an TV show host with …. let me stop. I am not sure where I would be, but I know that I would have made things happen for me a lot sooner than later.
I hope the class of 2017 takes full advantage of the mentorship opportunities they took part in this weekend and go full force to create a personal legacy. I look forward to following their journey.