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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Dreamers Academy sparks life-changing moments for students
Disney initiative draws participants from near, far
 
Published Friday, March 22, 2019 8:26 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

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ORLANDO, Florida—Disney Dreamers Academy is a destiny moment.

East Mecklenburg High School freshman Jasmine Bell is one of 100 students from across the country participating in the 12th annual academy at Walt Disney World. Students will experience more than a theme park. They take part in deep dives based on indicated interest, which for Bell encompasses culinary pursuits. They’ll engage in mentoring experiences through discussions with industry giants like Steve Harvey, DDA’s co-presenter along with Essence Magazine. The weekend culminates with a career open-mouse expo, where students share what they learned during deep dives Saturday night, and a commencement ceremony Sunday morning.

“These are your mental engineers for the weekend,” singer Yolanda Adams said. “You are going to experience things this weekend that will excite you, and hopefully ignite that purpose inside of you.”

Day one includes the academy members heading through Magic Kingdom in an annual kickoff parade. “Be 100” is the theme, encouraging students to embrace authenticity. The Be 100 welcome ceremony included a message from 2011 academy alumnus Princeton Parker sharing ways to establish and embrace one’s purpose. He broke it down into four parts: finding purpose through playtime, pain, relationships and a destiny moment.

“Destiny moments have the power to reverse the direction of your entire life,” Parker said. “For me, Dreamers Academy was my destiny moment.”

Parker encouraged attendees to take advantage of the sessions throughout the weekend by going for the connection, rather than simply the selfie.

“Destiny moments have the power to cause you to sit next to the same people you used to look up to,” Parker said. “The hardest thing to do sometimes is to accept that you deserve it.”

Said Adams: “We get to pour into you all some of the things we wish we had received when we were younger.”

DDA’s evolution includes emphasizing access to experts on how to build a brand and influencers, featuring panel discussions with Color Me Courtney and Lauren Simmons.

“We are adding some other programing for them, which is influencing and brand building,” said DDA Executive Champion and Vice President Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tracey Powell. “They’ll be able to hear from those experts in the field, who aren’t that much older than them.”

Note: academy applications for 2020 are now open. Students must be 13-19 to apply: https://www.disneydreamersacademy.com/

 

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