Dream on Purpose. Dream Big!
Disney Dreamers Academy Pre-Parade and Be 100 Welcome Ceremony
March 8th, 2018, Walt Disney World Resort hosted 100 high-schoolers who were competitively selected to participate in the eleventh year of the 2018 Disney Dreamer’s Academy hosted by Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. Dreamer’s and their parents, chaperones, and media correspondents eagerly attended this life-changing event from all over the nation in hopes of gaining insight of how to make their dreams come true. Dreamers filled with excitement, waved their DDA flags, banners while cheering to the audience aboard decorative floats during the Disney parade
(Gregg Newton, photographer)
During the opening ceremony, dreamers were encouraged to “open up your minds and dream this weekend” as stated by Steve Harvey. Considered to be a dreamer himself, often sharing the students his career path that its hills and valleys, but his vision for his life is what sustained him. Harvey also went on to say:
“you don’t have to know at this age exactly what you want to be when you grow up, it’s not necessary.”
Harvey stressed the idea that of being open to learning, gaining insight on different careers paths, and networking with experts who are in their areas of interests.
BE 100 BREAKFAST: WITH AMERICA’S CONNECTION COACH JONATHAN SPRINKLES
Disney Dreamers kicked off their second at Disney Dreamer’s Academy with a Be 100 Breakfast while listening to the inspirational renown speaker Jonathan Sprinkles.
“…when I stare into your eyes, every one of you, I see a piece of me in you…”
When he asked if he considered himself a final product he exclaimed:
“I’m not a finished product but I’m a faith-filled product”
DEEP DIVE: HANDS ON EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD
Dreamers were equipped with business cards, tablets, and hard-drives in order to effectively complete their group assignments, team activities, and individual tasks in excellence. One of most impactful experiences that the dreamers participated in, was the Deep Dive segments. Deep Dives were created for each field that dreamers were interested in pursuing as careers when they graduate high-school.
The classroom-like environment encouraged creativity, teamwork, and effective time-management in a real-life setting; focusing on the importance of deadlines. During these interactive sessions, facilitators, versed in their fields, assisted the students with hands-on training ranging from the medical field, agriculture, entrepreneurship to graphic design, media arts, sports, and Imagineering. Students were given assignments that were to be completed as a group and presented later during the Disney Dreamer Career Open Mouse.
Career inspired programs are imperative for students to participate in order to develop professional skills in and out of the workforce. High school students interested in media arts, (as you see above) learned key principles in being successful in the industry, during a Journalism Deep Dive workshop Friday, March 9, 2018. Students gained a real-world experience as they produced content that would be edited by a professional, Charreah Jackson, Lifestyle and Relationships Editor for ESSENCE Magazine.
The classroom-like environment encouraged creativity, teamwork, and effective time-management in a real-life setting; focusing on the importance of deadlines. During these interactive sessions, facilitators, versed in their fields, assisted the students with hands-on training ranging from the medical field, agriculture, entrepreneurship to graphic design, media arts, sports, and Imagineering. Students were given assignments that were to be completed as a group and presented later during the Disney Dreamer Career Open Mouse. Their peers, parents, and chaperones were welcomed to view the work of their children, which was presented in an art exhibit style.
Be 100 Conversations Celebrity Panel: Marsai Martin, Miles Brown, and Ruth Carter
Listening to the pubescent genius of Blackish stars Marsai Martin and Miles Brown was not only refreshing but brought on thoughts of “boy was I dumb when I was their age”. Both talented and filled with impactful insight, they easily grabbed the attention of every person in the room. Marsai began explaining her journey to Hollywood and how her parents left everything behind in Dallas, Texas to pursue her dream to be a child actor. During a season hiatus from the hit show Blackish, Marsai was interested in auditioning for other roles that were in the beginning stages of production, her agent, putting forth zero effort to help her find work said: “just stick with Blackish, we don’t have anything else for you”. Marsai’s parents were not only shocked at the cavalier response but refused to accept that there weren’t any roles for their daughter to audition for. During a meeting with all of the agents, the Martins were given a large stack of scripts for review. Upon viewing the scripts Marsai realized that there weren’t many roles available for little black girls.
“…there was a huge stack of scripts of everything that I’m not in. There’s no little black girls in this…..there’s no little black girls in this one….there’s a dog in this one….oh and an alien in this…..but nothing for me…”
This experience, although hurtful, it was a learning moment in which propelled Marsai to not only fire her agent but birth an idea and become the Executive Producer of her own film.
Miles Brown, who performed one of his poetic pieces, started his career in dance and then it segwayed into acting. He encouraged Disney Dreamers to expound and develop multiple gifts that they may have and to be confident in your gifts even if adults look down on you.
“everyone think if you have a career, you can only do one thing. Why can’t you be an actor, a basketball player, and a singer?”
Brown then blessed the dreamers with a rendition of a hip-hop/poetry piece that he wrote to inspired the dreamers to dream unapologetically.
Ruth Carter, costume designer for Afrofuturistic movie Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler, shared with the Disney Dreamer’s Academy participants the power of perserverance during times of distress. Carter shared wit the wide-eyed group of career-driven teens, a time in which her entire team abandoned her, at random, to work on another movie believing that Black Panther would be a flop. She talked about the importance of having a strong circle of support that will
All-Star Commencement Ceremony: The Disney Experience
Steve Harvey shared his gift of laughter with the audience but also described how his homelessness shaped him into who he is today. Harvey also shared with the audience his boyhood experience in which his primary school teacher created a harrowing moment in his life, that would propel him to succeed. Humiliating him in front of the whole class after reading his homework assignment aloud, she exclaimed “…you will never be on t.v.”. Every Christmas, Harvey makes it a point to send his primary teacher, now up in age, a huge screen television. Although the numerous life experiences, encouraging words, and spiritual uplifting words of hope were parroted throughout the four days, there was not a soul in the room not moved to feelings of expectation and aspiration.
The saddest part about the Disney Dreamer’s Academy is when the event came to a close. Every moment during the climactic event was filled with surprises and Disney excellence. As a dreamer, I can only imagine the thrill they must have felt to know that they were selected to be apart of this life-changing occasion but that their invitation included an all-expense paid opportunity to forever be transformed into future trailblazers. The audience was in complete awe of Yolanda Adams and her reverence through melodic gospel song, as she was the opener for the commencement ceremony.
Awards Given to Top Dreamers
High school student Q’Markis Brooks a cancer survivor and excellent academic student from West Palm Beach, Fla., received the Courage Award during the commencement ceremony,
All-Star Commencement Ceremony: The Disney Experience