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10th Disney Dreamers Academy kicks off at Walt Disney World

Cyril Josh Barker | 3/9/2017, 11:59 p.m.
The Walt Disney World Resort welcomed the 100 teens selected to participate in the 10th Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve ...
Tracy Powell and Princeton Parker kickoff the 10th Disney Dreamers Academy Cyril Josh Barker photo

ORLANDO, Fla - The Walt Disney World Resort welcomed the 100 teens selected to participate in the 10th Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine on Thursday. Four of the students selected are from the New York-metro area

The Dreamers participated in a parade on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom theme park on Thursday. The parade featured Steve Harvey along with Disney characters and former Dreamers.

In the evening, the teens and their parents attended a welcoming ceremony at Epcot Center where speakers included Harvey, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and President of Essence Communications, Michelle Ebanks.

This year's group traveled from across the nation for the all-expenses paid trip to Disney World. Over the next few days the teens are participating in hands-on workshops in fields they selected. Experts, motivational speakers and celebrities will serve as their mentors and instructors.

Steve Harvey

Cyril Josh Barker photo

Steve Harvey

Celebrating a milestone year, the Disney Dreamers Academy is in its 10th year taking on 1,000 students over the last decade. One alum from every past Academy is participating in this weekend’s activities.

At a press conference on Thursday Harvey discussed the importance of changing the mindset of youth by concentrating on their dreams.

“It’s been 10 years of progress and 10 years of results,” he said. “This is doing a lot of great things for a lot of young people’s lives. You’ve got to expose young people to dreams. If you sat down with a child every 30 days and discussed their dreams, you’d be amazed of what you can get from a child.

Ebanks said the Dreamers Academy is about making a difference in the lives of the teens so they have the skills to pursue their own success.

“What has been remarkable is Disney’s commitment,” she said. “This world class corporation is taking the time and putting in their treasure against the lives of these now 1,000 youth.”

On Friday, the Dreamers will attend motivational sessions hearing from speakers including former Dreamer Princeton Parker, motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles and Wynton Harvey.

They will spend the day participating in “Dreamer Deep Dives” at Disney University at various parks in the resort. In the evening the Dreamers will attend a dinner where they will have the opportunity to network with professionals.