This past weekend at Walt Disney World hosted an exclusive group of teens for the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. The teens, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort March 6-9, but they aren’t vacationing. Instead, they will be participating in a once-in-lifetime, innovative, outside-the-classroom, educational and mentoring program. Entering its seventh year, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, students participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a bevy of career paths ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies. It all takes place in a magical setting: the Walt Disney World theme parks. Both on stage and behind the scenes, the parks become vibrant classrooms, leading to career discoveries, the pursuit of dreams and fun memories to cherish for a lifetime. Motivational speakers and celebrities share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and DREAM BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while they gain first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives. “Over the past six years, we have helped 600 Dreamers unlock their potential and get started on their journeys in life,” said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. “The seventh Disney Dreamers Academy marks another year of continued motivation, education and success. Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Communications share in our vision of enriching lives. Everyone leaves this program inspired to live their best life.” Walt Disney World Resort along with Steve Harvey, syndicated television and radio personality, and ESSENCE Magazine will host the selected Dreamers during their four-day power packed career and educational exploration. Harvey, speaking on the program, says, “Disney Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold.” ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “We are excited about the seventh Disney Dreamers Academy. This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. This year we plan to go above and beyond to encourage Dreamers. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey represents our commitment to the leaders of tomorrow.” This year’s students were selected from nearly 10,000 applicants - the most applicants in the history of the program - by a panel of judges representing the best in their fields that included Powell, Harvey and Ebanks. Applicants answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories and life dreams. The rest of the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy judging panel was comprised of: Mikki Taylor (Editor-at-Large, ESSENCE Magazine); Dr. Steve Perry (education advocate and CNN commentator); Sonia Jackson Myles (founder and author, The Sister Accord); Jonathan Sprinkles (award-winning motivational speaker); Chef Jeff Henderson (celebrity chef and motivational speaker); Brandi Harvey (Corporate and Community Relations Director, the Steve Harvey World Group); Karli Harvey (Hair Artesian, U Salon, Atlanta) and Princeton Parker (Disney Dreamers Academy alumnus). This accomplished group, along with others including Yolanda Adams (gospel music legend); Terrence J (actor and host of E! News); Stephen A. Smith (broadcaster and sports analyst); and Alex O. Ellis (CEO, Simply Ellis Custom Clothier), remains involved in Disney Dreamers Academy throughout the year, serving as the program’s ambassadors and advisory panel as part of Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group. For more information, visit www.disneysdreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneysdreamersacademy or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dreamersacademy.