ORLANDO, Fla – The Walt Disney World Resort welcomes the 100 teens selected to participate in the 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy on Thursday. 

As the Dreamers Academy enters its 16th year, organizers said the event aims to empower youth to make their own dreams come true, setting the stage for the weekend’s activities. Several students from the New York City area were selected to participate in the this year’s event. Among them are Amechi Chukwujiorah-Strange from Queens, Mosope Aina from Newark, NJ and Autumn Tyler from Chester, NY.

Disney Dreamers Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo
Disney Dreamers Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

The Dreamers participated in a parade on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom theme park on Thursday. The parade featured Celebrity Ambassador Halle Bailey and Vice President of Travel Services, Pricing & Revenue Management at Disney Parks, Experiences, & Products and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey Powell.

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Tracey Powell and Princess Tiana Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo
Halle Bailey Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

Bailey, along with her sister Chloe Bailey, served as a mentor at previous Disney Dreamer Academy events. In an interview with the AmNews, Halle said the students inspire her.

Halle Bailey Credit: Cyril Barker photo

“I love coming to the Disney Dreamers Academy,” she said. These students are so inspiring to me I’m just grateful to be in the midst of such talented individuals,” she said. “

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In the morning, the teens and their parents attended a welcoming rally at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort where speakers included Powell, Bailey and former Disney Dreamer Princeton Parker. The students were also treated to a marching band performance and a step show by members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority step performance Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo
Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

“The needs of young people right now are so different from any generation before,” Parker said. “They need to know that in the midst of seeing so many options, they need to know that those options are possible for them. They need to be given the tools and the tactics to build relationships.”

This year’s group traveled from 27 states 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. 

During the welcoming rally on Thursday, Powell said this year’s dreamers have diverse ideas on how to change things. She told the AmNews that organizers try to make the Dreamers Academy different because every class is of students is different

Tracey Powell Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo
Princeton Parker Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

“We want the students to always be able to dream,” Powell said. “We want them to be able to take the opportunity [and] step away from what they’ve come from and really enjoy the moment. This is a weekend of transformation.”

On Friday, the Dreamers will attend motivational sessions hearing from speakers including ESSENCE CEO Caroline Wanga and actress Marsai Martin. They will also spend the day participating in “Career Deep Dives” at the parks and resort.

Disclosure: The Walt Disney Company paid for the travel and accommodations for several media outlets, including the AmNews, to cover the Disney Dreamers Academy. Disney did not review or approve any of our coverage.