Disney-Style Salute Planned for Fifth-Year Anniversary as 100 Students are Selected for Disney’s Dreamers Academy

Dreaming Big’ Mantra Comes Alive March 8-11, 2012 as 100 Students Get Fresh Perspective, Jump Start on Career Paths and Life




LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., (January 27, 2012) – Walt Disney World Resort today announced the list of 100 high school students from across the U.S. who have been selected to attend the 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine.

Often described as the world’s most creative classroom, the four-day power-packed program hosted by Disney and renowned entertainer Steve Harvey will be held March 8-11, 2012 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Disney’s Dreamers Academy inspires and fuels the dreams of selected students to help them dream bigger, discover a world of possibilities and get a jump start on making those dreams come true.

Now entering its fifth year, more than 500 high school students will have participated since Disney’s Dreamers Academy opened its doors in 2008.

A celebrity panel of judges led by comedian, author, philanthropist and Disney’s Dreamers Academy Ambassador Steve Harvey reviewed more than 4,700 applications and selected the 100 students for the Class of 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy. Judging criteria included exhibiting curiosity, compassion and leadership skills.

During the 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy, students will engage in multiple activities, including interacting with a range of industry professionals and experience immersive introductions to various career paths. Disney’s Dreamers Academy students participate in workshops on a variety of subjects, including entertainment, entrepreneurship, the medical field, culinary arts and creative inspiration from Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative gurus behind Disney’s theme parks and attractions.

“We are thrilled to announce this new class of 100 unique Dreamers who will graduate from the Academy with a whole new perspective on their future,” said Tracey Walters-Powell, executive champion of the program for Disney Parks & Resorts. “We received more applications this year than any other and we have selected an amazing class for this historic fifth year anniversary of the Dreamers Academy.”

“I’ve been with Dreamers Academy from day one and each year the program gets stronger as we add new interactive and experiential components for these students, so to hit the five-year mark is quite an accomplishment,” said Steve Harvey, who has served as Ambassador of Disney’s Dreamers Academy since the program started. “Investing and re-investing in these kids each year, you can really see the pay off as they leave the Academy and start to look at their future in a much different and much brighter light.”

Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks said, “I am not going to divulge any secrets as to what’s being planned for this important fifth anniversary, but if you know anything about Walt Disney World, you know this life-changing event is going to be a truly amazing spectacular for these students and we are proud to be a part of it.”

Proving that Disney’s Dreamers Academy graduates emerge with a new perspective on life and their career paths, two recent graduates from the Class of 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy — Diamond Sims of Miami and Princeton Parker of Los Angeles — were invited to share their stories on the popular blog Huffington Post.

“Disney’s Dreamers Academy was a part of my life that I will never ever forget,” said Sims, who is now a freshman at University of Florida. ” I met people who are from the same place as I am. I met people from all types of professions who were willing to provide advice, guidance and encouragement. In only a few days, they helped mold me into the young woman that I am today.”

Parker,17, who just started his first year of communications studies at the University of Southern California, said: “Disney’s Dreamers Academy changed my life not only by enlarging my dreams and understanding, but also by introducing me to more than 100 other young visionaries who possess the same drive, tenacity, vigor and capacity to dream.”

Speakers Resource Group Added to Enhance Dreamers Academy
To increase the depth of experiences shared at Disney’s Dreamers Academy, a formal speakers resource group has been formed that includes accomplished professionals who serve as program ambassadors and who share common goals: inspiring youth to believe in their dreams and giving them tools to jumpstart their dreams into reality. The Disney’s Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group champions students in a variety of ways, including participating in the panel of judges who selected the 100 students to attending the flagship event at Walt Disney World Resort to offering insights about the four-day event curriculum. They also collaborate with Disney in extending Disney’s Dreamers Academy program content into relevant community, educational and entertainment platforms.

The 2012 Disney’s Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group will include: Mikki Taylor (Editor-at-Large, ESSENCE Magazine); Yolanda Adams (gospel music legend); Terrence J (BET host of 106 and Park); Stephen A. Smith (broadcaster and sports analyst); Dr. Steve Perry (education advocate and CNN commentator); Sonia Jackson-Myles (founder and author, The Sister Accord); Jonathan Sprinkles (award-winning motivational speaker); and Brandi Harvey (Corporate and Community Relations Director, the Steve Harvey World Group) and Karli Harvey (Hair Artesian, U Salon, Atlanta).

For additional information and updates on the program please visit www.disneysdreamersacademy.com or www.facebook.com/disneysdreamersacademy. You can also follow on Twitter @dreamersacademy.