By Lynn Jones – Two Jacksonville youth were among 100 out of thousands selected for the 10th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy in partnership with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine. For four intensive days, students are exposed to careers, workshops, celebrities and experiences of their wildest dreams on the Walt Disney Campus. 100 dreamers united at Disney World for five days of deep diving into their career destiny.
Hosted by multi-talented entertainer Steve Harvey, the coveted event was a star studded motivational and inspiring event. Every October over 5,000 students apply for a spot at the Dreamers Academy. Students submit essays detailing their career aspirations; their home life and options for their success to make their dreams come true. Students connect to assist peers with self esteem issues, in addition to connecting to realize their impending individual and professional dreams. The opening ceremony began with ‘Dream Big” with Steve Harvey and Disney Executive Tracey Powell and Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks. Workshops and motivational topics included, “Dreams, Possibilities and Passions,” “Each One, Teach One” and most importantly the personalized “Deep Dives” where dreamers are divided into small groups, which are based on their career interests and aspirations expressed in their submitted biographies. Parents and guardians also partook in parent programming workshop to reiterate that it was not too late to reinstate their dreams and the adversities of raising a millennial dreamer.
This year accepted dreamers were Jacksonville Ribault High School sophomore student Jordan Mills and Bishop Kenny High school junior student Christopher Young. Dreamer Jordan Mills is a mentee of the Jacksonville Free Press. Jordan has had the opportunity to shadow staff on media tours and film celebrity interviews to acquire a heads up on his dream of becoming a screen writer and filmmaker. After applying in 2015 and denied entry, Jordan reapplied in 2016 and was accepted into the class of 2017. Dreamer Christopher Young, whose brother Matthew Young was a 2014 Dreamers Academy graduate, was the catalyst and motivator for his brother to begin the Disney Dreamer journey. Christopher’s dream is to become a cinematographer to create and produce films and documentaries.
The Dreamers Academy commencement finale ceremony is where dreamers graduate and receive awards. This year host Steve Harvey praised students for taking notes and being attentive to their dreams, goals and aspirations. Surprise guest included Patti Labelle belting out the tunes to Somewhere Over the Rainbow and broadcast journalist T.J. Holmes who spoke to dreamers on his achievements and his failures. “You have to be here to see it and believe it. I’m even more excited to achieve my dreams. My mom, my mentors have prepared me for this moment and with the advice of Steve Harvey and the dreamers in my class, I’m more than ready,” said Dreamer Jordan Mills.