On March 3-6, 100 of the best, brightest, most imaginative, and inspiring students gathered at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, for the 9th annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.
Over the course of 3 days, 25 students from each region of the nation gathered for a weekend tribute to the power of dreams and the realization and tenacity necessary to make dreams come true.
Featuring speakers Steve Harvey, Mikki Taylor, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Ebanks, Jonathan Sprinkles, Lisa Nichols, Tracey Powell, Dr. Steve Perry, MC Lyte, Will Packer, Loni Love, Lamman Rucker, Lance Gross, graduate of the dreamers academy, Princeton Parker, and many more, this weekend was chock full of inspiration, support, and guidance for the promising students who dared to embrace boundless dreams.
“There is one word to summarize this weekend: reach,” says Princeton Parker, who is affectionately called the kid preacher and 2011 Disney Dreamer. “What you achieve is what you reach for, so your reasons for reaching must be greater than every reason not to,” he emphasized as he spoke candidly to the dreamers.
Throughout the empowering weekend, each speaker enforced the underlying message of the importance of keeping dreams alive while seeing them through to reality.
“If you’re going to make something out of your life, you may have to do a few things you’re uncomfortable with,” stated the Academy’s host, Steve Harvey. “It is necessary to get out of your comfort zone in order to succeed,” he continued.
With wide eyes, each dreamer noted speaking points to be revisited when they need an extra dose of inspiration as they journey to their dreams.
This weekend was not simply about the dreamers, as we know that it takes a village to facilitate dreaming. The phenomenal parents of the Disney Dreamers, too, were inspired and guided on the work that must continue to be done, with and for themselves, in order to create the most productive and nurturing dreaming environment.
With a message of thankless resilience, perseverance, and determination from one of the world’s most highly-regarded motivational speakers, Lisa Nichols, the parents were challenged with pressing questions in order to keep sight of themselves while holding sight of their dreamers.
“Aside from your children, what is your own fingerprint on the world?” pressed Nichols.
“How are you making your ‘dash’ dance?” she asked. Each parent was challenged to remain focused on their dreamers in order to inspire the continuation of dreaming in their children.
Nichols encouraged the parents to look at challenges as opportunities before offering a profound takeaway, passed on to her from her late grandmother, for the parents and dreamers alike: “In all things keep in mind that quitters never win,” said Nichols, “and winners never quit.”