ORLANDO, Fla – The Walt Disney World Resort welcomed the 100 teens selected to participate in the 2022 Disney Dreamers Academy on Thursday. 

As the Dreamers Academy enters its 15th year, organizers said the event aims to empower youth to make their own dreams come true. Thursday’s theme was “Dream…Bigger” setting the stage for the weekend’s activities. 

The Dreamers participated in a parade on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom theme park on Thursday. The parade featured Celebrity Ambassador Kelly Rowland and Disney Signature Experiences Vice President and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracy Powell.

Tracy Powell and Kelly Rowland Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

In the evening, the teens and their parents attended a welcoming rally at EPCOT where speakers included Powell and former Disney Dreamer Princeton Parker.

The students were also treated to a performance by gospel singer Kierra Sheard.

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. 

Kelly Rowland Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

Students came from 25 states. New York State has the highest representation this year with nine students.

During the welcoming rally on Thursday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President and DDA Executive Champion Tracey Powell said this year’s dreamers have diverse ideas on how to change things.

Powell told the AmNews that she is proud and excited about the students being able to get a “breath” of career options. All 100 Dreamers will have the opportunity to do externships with people inside and outside of the Walt Disney Company in the area that they have the most interest in.

“I want the students to know and have the courage and confidence that their dreams matter,” Powell said. “And that their dreams are so important and it can come true. All they have to do is believe in themselves.”

Sheard said she hopes to leave the Dreamers with the lesson to not be discouraged by rejection because there is something greater waiting for them.

Kierra Sheard Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

“I hope to leave the legacy to keep going and to go after the bigger picture,” she said. “I want them to see that there’s so much for you to do and just keep dreaming.”

On Friday, the Dreamers will attend motivational sessions hearing from speakers including former Dreamer Princeton Parker, Dayna Lee and Raevon Redding.

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.

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