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California Dreamers




Saturday, April 20, 2013

For those of you that are not on my Facebook page and didn't see me go on and on and on about my recent Walt Disney World® experience, I'm curious: Have you heard about the Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine?  No?  Here's how they describe it:  

It all started with a mouse. ~Walt Disney
"[A] unique opportunity where we help to inspire, motivate & empower our youth as they begin their journey to a future full of promise & endless possibilities."

In my own words, it's an action-packed long weekend where 100 lucky kids are flown in from all over the U.S. (all expenses paid, of course) and encouraged to Dream Big. Oh.  And in the best possible place on earth to foster dreams:  Walt Disney World® Resort.  
#DDA2013 - as it is known both on Instagram and in the Twittersphere - was without a doubt one of The Most inspiring events I have ever experienced.  Of course, I was brought to [happy] tears many many times over this long weekend because soooooo many people - from volunteer Disney employees on their days off (thanks, Joni!) to celebrities and notables like Steve Harvey, Yolanda Adams, Mikki Taylor,  Carla Hall, Kimberly Locke, Chandra Wilson, Lance Gross, Lamman Rucker, James Pickens, Jr. Terrence Jenkins, Dr. Steve Perry and Hip-Hop violinist Maestro Jeffrey Hughes (to name a few! #whew) - took the time to show these youth how much they care.  And it showed.


Steve Harvey responds to press questions
Yours truly and Chef Carla Hall
Celebrities respond to questions from the Dreamers
Hip-Hop violinist "Maestro" Jeffrey Hughes 
Yolanda Adams and You Know Who =)
Joni and me!
Joni, an employee at WDW, volunteered her personal time and was assigned
to care for my every need over the weekend.  Love me some Joni!  ;-)

So here we are at just a little more than a month later and I am still high off of the experience.  You would think that I was one of the teens and not there to share my view.  Oh, to be a teen again. 


A few of the 100 lucky Dreamers

All of the Dreamers made their entrance via parade! How about that?!?!?!?

I have much more to share about #DDA2013 Weekend than I have space on this blog, so I'll be sharing more in bits and pieces later.  In the meantime, I'd like you to introduce you to four Dreamers that hail from my home state.  Out of 5,000 DDA hopefuls and only 100 coveted spots, there were four Dreamers from California.  (I intentionally did not read their personal biographies before I interviewed them.)  With obvious bias (*big smile*), it is my pleasure to introduce #DDA2013's California Dreamers... #drumrollplease




EDRIECE GILLS
Personal Bio:  I am 17 years old, born in Sacramento, CA, raised in Corona, CA.  I am a senior at Centennial High School where I placed 2nd at State in Track for my main event.  My goals are to attend college with a major in clinical psychology and to further my track career.  I believe the hardest part of an journey is the first step.  Human life would be so much easier if we were born into it with a roadmap and a flashlight.  Some say we actually were, but we forgot where we put them.  I feel like part of life is creating your own path, making your own map, finding life's meanings, and defining your philosophy.  The hardest part of your journey, once you've found your truth, is living it every day.

KAILAH BROOKFIELD
Personal Bio:  I am 16 years old, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA.  I am in the 11th grade and currently attend King Drew Medical Magnet High School of Medicine and Science.  I have been extremely active in my school's social and academic life.  I am in BSU & Peer Mediation, and I also volunteer at a horse ranch on weekends.  In college I plan to have a major in Anthropology and a minor in Drama.  After school, I'd like to pursue a career as OBGYN and also acting.  I've always been extremely energetic and charismatic.

SATHYA PERI
Personal Bio:  I am a 17 year old attending Whitney High School in Cerritos, CA.  I pursue creativity through inventing and golf, as I ardently question the possible re-innovation of any product or try to find a solution to a problem.  In golf no two shots are the same; each shot requires imagination.  The bridge between an innovator and an entrepreneur is leadership.  As an Eagle Scout, I lead my thirty boys to build, paint, and place six owl boxes to combat a gopher problem in a nearby park for my Eagle Project.  Innovator. Entrepreneur. Leader.

   BRANDON TANYI
Personal Bio:  I am 15 years old, born in Cameroon, Africa.  I now reside in California as I complete my senior year at Inglewood High School.  I enjoy dancing and social studies.  I am a member of The Omega Scholars fraternity club and the Vice President of the African Alliance Association step team in my school.  My goal in life is to become a cardiologist because of my mom.  She had a myocardial disease which she was born with.  Every day I look at her, my desire to achieve this becomes stronger.

***
I don't know what you think after listening to these California Dreamers and reading their bios, but I am as impressed with them as I was with My Welcome Home.  I am also honored to have been selected to attend #DDA2013 and to meet this new generation of dreamers, believers and do-ers.  I just hope they invite this Dreamer back next year.


Another California Dreamer = 5. ;-)




This is Part II of a multi-part humanity series on the Disney Dreamers Academy.  Click here for Part I.
 
Applications for DDA2014 will open this summer.  Check out Disney Dreamers Academy on Facebook

Disclosure:  I was invited by the Disney Dreamers Academy to cover this glorious event.  All opinions are my own.
Photo Credit: @OneBrownGirl

2 comments:

Michele Oliver on: April 21, 2013 at 3:20 PM said...

Awesome Tracey! Such a beautiful experience that you are sharing with us. You & Carla look alike!

Tracey Friley on: April 22, 2013 at 9:29 PM said...

Thanks, Michele! Since you're on my Facebook page, you know how much of an impact this long weekend made on me. I just hope it comes across in this post. =)

(And yes, I hear that about Carla A LOT!)

 

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