The Disney Dreamers Academy held its first ever “100 Minutes To Empower Your Dreams” seminar in September at the Schomburg Center in Harlem to encourage and inspire New York City high school students to pursue their dreams. Disney executives, motivational speakers, and alumni from the Disney Dreamers Academy program shared stories and personal testimonies with the students and their parents. The speakers also encouraged the auditorium of black and brown teens to “be 100” by giving their all, being honest and authentic, and taking action with integrity.
The seminar served to encourage the students to apply for the 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy program, an annual all-expenses-paid trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida that provides youth with hands-on mentorship and career advice. During the four-day experience, 100 select students between 13 and 19 work directly with community leaders, industry executives, and celebrities like Steve Harvey every March.
Guest speakers at the seminar included motivational speakers Brandi Harvey and Jonathan Sprinkles, Disney Executive Champion Tracey Powell, Essence Beauty and Style Director Julee Wilson, and Disney Dreamers Academy alumni Avery Davis and Kayla Jackson.
Jackson, a class of 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy alum, says her experience in the program was life-changing and sparked her interest in entrepreneurship. “I actually went on to launch, scale, and sold an online magazine meant to empower young women of color when I graduated high school, and now I’m tackling a huge universal problem, which is equal access to quality education,” she told Black Enterprise. “The most critical piece of the Dreamers Academy is the ability to tie dreams to reality and walk out with actionable steps to see that dream come true.” Today, Jackson also runs an online crowdfunding tool that helps students raise money for college called PeduL.
During her speech, her message to the students was simple yet powerful: “to be you, to be authentic, and to be utterly relentlessly about pursuing your dreams.”
Sprinkles, a reoccurring Disney Dreamer’s Academy mentor, told a captivating story about resilience and persistence during the seminar. “Dreaming is the first part of becoming and I’m here to talk about why we sometimes limit our dream,” he told BE. “A lot of people discount themselves and discount what they believe they can do, and my job is to push them past what they believe they can’t do based on who they think they are not.”