Travel

NJ teen among 100 to participate in mentoring event at Walt Disney World in March

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L-R: CHRISTIANA OKAFOR, AVA MARIE EASTER, MICKEY MOUSE, PAULA FARIS, SEAN SMITH, TRACEY POWELL, MARQUIS THOMAS, AYANNA ADAMS
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L-R: SEAN SMITH, AYANNA ADAMS, MICKEY MOUSE, MARQUIS THOMAS, AVA MARIE EASTER, CHRISTIANA OKAFOR
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - Five high school students, including one from New Jersey,  were surprised live on “Good Morning America’’ Monday with the announcement that they were selected to be part of the exclusive Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine.

Sean Smith, 14, of Basking Ridge was one fo the five students who were surprised on live TV. These five are among 100 youths from across the county announced by Disney to participate in its immersive, transformational four-day program, March 8-11, at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Smith shared the spotlight, and surprise, with Ayanna Adams from Los Angeles, Christiana Okafor from Houston, Marquis Thomas from Virginia Beach, Va., and Ava Marie Easter from Los Angeles.

“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.’’

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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. 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.”

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 Disney 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 DisneyDreamersAcademy.com. Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available on social media at Facebook/DisneyDreamersAcademy or Twitter/DreamersAcademy.

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