By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
“I’m Going to Disney World!’’
Four Chicago-Area Teens Selected to Participate in Mentoring Trip to Disney Dreamers Academy
Four Chicago-area teens are among the 100 extraordinary youths from across the nation announced by Disney to participate in its immersive, transformational four-day program, March 8-11, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
The program, which is entering its 11th year with a new “Be100’’ campaign, and is hosted by entertainer Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine, highlights Walt Disney World Resort’s continued commitment to the next generation of teens by inspiring them at a critical time in their development to make a difference in their lives and to relentlessly pursue and realize their dreams.
“Each of these 100 girls and boys has proven themselves to be exceptional as students and as human beings, so it’s an honor to have them join us at Walt Disney World Resort,’’ said Tracey D. Powell, Walt Disney World Resort vice president of commercial management – resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “It is our hope that this potentially life-changing program will help create the next generation of great dreamers and achievers.’’
Participating students, known as “Disney Dreamers,” embark on a journey throughout the Disney theme parks and behind the scenes, turning the vacation destination into a vibrant classroom for students to discover new careers, pursue their dreams and interact with Harvey and other motivational speakers and celebrities. Among the celebrities who have participated in the past are singers Patti LaBelle and Mary J. Blige, NBA legend and business mogul Magic Johnson, gospel music star Yolanda Adams, NFL superstar Cam Newton, plus TV personalities such as “The Chew’’ co-host Carla Hall, “Good Morning America’’ co-anchor Michael Strahan and ABC correspondent T.J. Holmes.
Additionally, students participate in hands-on, immersive career-oriented workshops, ranging from animation to zoology. Each student is given important tools such as effective communication techniques, leadership skills and networking strategies.
“Inspiring our youth to dream big and chase those dreams is a personal mission,” said Harvey. “Having a dream is one of the most important things in life. That is why engaging with these students is an annual highlight for me, and the 2018 Disney Dreamers Academy will be no exception.”
The four Chicago-area students are: Mariah Barnett from Aurora; Tabitha Willis from Country Club Hills; Tamela Trimuel from Harvey and Jayvion Rice from Riverdale.
Since 2008, Walt Disney World Resort has provided all-expenses-paid trips to more than 1,000 students, plus a parent or guardian, to participate in the annual Dreamers Academy. The students are selected from thousands of applicants who answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories and dreams for the future.
“At ESSENCE, we are committed to impacting the leaders of tomorrow,” said Michelle Ebanks, president of ESSENCE Communications. “Every year, we continue to be impressed by the exceptional students selected for Disney Dreamers Academy, and it is our privilege to play a role in encouraging them to achieve their goals.’’
For more information, visit www.DisneyDreamersAcademy.com.