Magical Journey for 100 High School Students


Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton announces the continuation of the Academy during 2008 kickoff event

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Friday, Jan. 18, 2008) -- Walt Disney World Resort Thursday night opened the doors of the magic behind Disney to 100 creative and imaginative teens from all across the United States -- from New York to New Orleans, from Compton, Calif., to Wichita, Kan. -- at the kickoff of the inaugural Disney's Dreamers Academy. Working with nationally syndicated radio personality Steve Harvey, Disney developed the innovative program for launch during "The Year of a Million Dreams" and fittingly scheduled activities to occur during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, a national celebration of the ultimate dreamer.

Designed to immerse high school students in creative and non-conventional career opportunities, Disney's Dreamers Academy is taking place in a most creative classroom, providing the young dreamers unprecedented access to the magic behind Walt Disney World Resort through Sunday, Jan. 20.

Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton led the welcome ceremony by announcing that, due to the overwhelming response from young dreamers, Disney's Dreamers Academy will return to Walt Disney World in 2009.

Celebrating his 51st birthday, Harvey hosted the event with Crofton and Xiomara Wiley, vice president of Disneyland marketing and vice president of Walt Disney World Multicultural Marketing. And, of course, Mickey Mouse was on hand to welcome the 100 dreamers and their families.

During the first-ever career enrichment program of its kind, students are participating in interactive workshops focusing on a variety of subjects including Walt Disney World Imagineering techniques, entertainment, sports, culinary arts, and more. Throughout the three-and-a-half days, Disney cast members, executives and celebrity guests will share their blueprints for success including tips on networking, making a good first impression, job interview skills and finding the right career path. The 100 teens will also have the opportunity to enjoy Disney's world-class theme parks.

Celebrity participants in the Academy include R&B artists Keyshia Cole and Musiq Soulchild; actors Tichina Arnold ("Everybody Hates Chris," "Martin"), Victoria Rowell ("The Young & the Restless"), Kyle ("Corey in the House") and Chris Massey (Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101"); truTV Host Star Jones Reynolds; and hosts of BET's Top 10 countdown show "106th and Park" Rosci and Terrance J.

Harvey will share his secrets to "Hosting a Radio Show" in one session. Noted experts from the world of professional sports -- including NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers star linebacker Derrick Brooks; ESPN on-air talent Stephen A. Smith and Jemele Hill; sports marketing consultant Erin Patton, whose clients have included Michael Jordan and Stephon Marbury; renowned sports agent Greg Nared, who has worked with Tiger Woods and Michele Wie, and Disney sports executive Kellen Winslow (Pro Football Hall of Famer) -- will offer their expertise about "The Business of Sports" and other sports-related topics. And members of Walt Disney Entertainment -- including performers from the "Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show" at Disney's Hollywood Studios -- will offer tips on making it in the entertainment business.

The program will culminate with a graduation ceremony featuring noted entrepreneur Bob Johnson, founder of BET Networks and current owner of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats, as the keynote speaker.

"When you talk about the Disney World organization, it has as many jobs as a single corporation can have and I'm excited to see these kids have an opportunity to experience everything that Disney has to offer them," said Harvey. "We'll show these kids that there are many ways to follow your dreams."

"The Steve Harvey Morning Show" conducted the Dreamer's Contest to help identify the participants in Disney's Dreamers Academy. This program was created for high school students who show promise -- but may need a little motivation. All of the selected students share a trait: the power to DREAM. Parents, teachers, school administrators, church groups and even the students themselves nominated more than 3,000 aspiring dreamers from across the nation for the program. Participants were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including educators, civic leaders, business professionals and Disney Parks' executives.

"This is a special program that we have created as part of 'The Year of a Million Dreams' celebration at Disney Parks," said Wiley. "We want to educate and open doors for our young dreamers by helping them to realize the power within and inspire them to discover their dreams and follow them wherever they lead."

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