Dreamers descend on Disney

'The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.' -Walt Disney

Elinor Tatum | 3/12/2014, noon
New York's Dreamers Chelsea Mina and Madison Mack with Steve Harvey


2014 Dreamers Class Photo


Dreamers in a forensics deep dive


Johnathan Sprinkle


Dreamers with Magic Johnson and Mickey Mouse


NY Dreamer Avia Anderson


Daniel Anikwu


Alicia Hamilton-Young, the mother of Dreamer Tiana Young from Rockland County

Ninety-nine dreamers descended on Walt Disney World last week to participate in the seventh annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. Representing 27 states and the District of Columbia, these young people, aged 13-19, came with the intention of getting guidance and help to figure out how to achieve their dreams.

Over 10,000 students applied for the 100 coveted dreamer spots. Every dreamer and their chaperone (parent or guardian) received an all-expenses-paid trip to Disney. The four-day program was especially created for dreamers to help fulfill their dreams, and there was a separate program for the chaperones to help them to help the dreamers fulfill their dreams.

The highlights of the Academy included hearing from Harvey and Magic Johnson. The students also had networking sessions with Michelle Ebanks and Mikki Taylor from Essence, along with Johnathan Sprinkles and other mentors in areas such as the arts, law, medicine and business, among others.

Saturday was dedicated to Disney Deep Dives, where the dreamers delved further into their chosen fields. The experience will stay with these young people forever. According to many of the parents, they could not have dreamed of anything better for their children.

Alicia Hamilton-Young, the mother of Dreamer Tiana Young from Rockland County, N.Y., said, " The experience exposed them to opportunities and gives them food for thought about what they can reach, and that dedication pays off.

Marcia Greg-Miller, mother of Dreamer Avia Anderson, found out that her daughter was selected as a Dreamer on her birthday. "On my birthday, Avia got a package in the mail. This experience motivates her, and she sees something out there and puts her all into it, and this is where it can lead," Greg-Miller said. In addition, Hamilton-Miller said that that the parent programing was so inspirational and motivating. Another parent commented on what she personally got out of the experience.

In the parent talk by Dr. Steve Perry, "Raising a Dreamer," Perry said to the parents and guardians that even though they are trying to help their children reach their dreams, they can't forget their own. This mother, when she returns home to Georgia, is planning to return to school and get her nursing degree.

Every Dreamer has a story, and those chosen to participate in the program all had to overcome something. Each one brought something special to the program. Not everyone was an A student, but everyone had a special spark and a story to tell—and that makes them Dreamers.

The Disney Dreamers program has now touched almost 700 young people from around the country. The program, which just graduated its seventh class, will continue next year with the Disney Dreamers Class of 2015. For more information on the program and how to apply, check out www.disneydreamersacademy.com.

Four young people from NewYork City were selected as 2014 Dreamers. They hailed from the Bronx and Brooklyn. Below is a little bit about each one.

Avia Anderson: Greater New York Academy, Bronx, N.Y.