For Immediate Release
February 17, 2009
Contact Information

Annette Gibbs of Walt Disney World Resort
Kristena Lucky
for Walt Disney World Resort

(BPRW)Cheers to the 2009 Disney's Dreamers Academy Graduating Class... Moving Forward To Pursue Their Dreams and Create Change

Walt Disney World Resort and Steve Harvey Present 100 Nationwide Graduates from Innovative Learning Experience at Walt Disney World Resort

(BLACK PR WIRE)LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Feb. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Walt Disney World Resort and nationally syndicated radio personality Steve Harvey present the 2009 graduating class of Disney’s Dreamers Academy – 100 high school students from across America who took part in an innovative career program at Walt Disney World Resort. The commencement exercise at Epcot (on Feb. 15) followed three days of interactive workshops, motivational talks and hands-on creative experiences.

The program exposed participants to creative and nontraditional career opportunities in everything from culinary arts to animation, set design and production to the business of sports, while inspiring them to exceed the boundaries of their dreams and imaginations. Featured speakers at the workshops included Sherri Shepherd (“The View”); Chef Jeff Henderson (Food Network); Anika Noni Rose, (voice of Princess Tiana in Disney’s upcoming animated feature “The Princess and the Frog”); Monique Coleman (“High School Musical” and “Dancing with the Stars”); Warrick Dunn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), and more.

Celebrating its second “Dreamers Class,” the Disney’s Dreamers Academy reached out nationwide to teens, grades 9-12, who show promise – but need additional motivational support to excel. The 100 graduates were carefully selected by a distinguished panel of judges from more than 4,000 applicants. Each of the 100 selected students shared a remarkable trait: the power to DREAM. Parents, teachers, school administrators, church groups and even the students themselves nominated aspiring dreamers from across the nation for the program. The weekend culminated at the commencement ceremony with the keynote address of perseverance given by Naval Academy graduate Zerbin Singleton.

“With the nation’s attention on change and a spirit of renewed hope, we were overjoyed with the excitement centered on this year’s Disney’s Dreamers Academy and the overwhelming enthusiasm it has generated from young people spanning America,” said Lara Montilla, director of multicultural marketing and resorts marketing, Walt Disney World Resort. “We set out to educate and open doors for our young dreamers by helping them to realize the power within and inspiring them to discover their dreams and follow them wherever they lead.”

Steve Harvey conducted the Dreamer’s Contest on his eponymous show to identify participants for Disney’s Dreamers Academy. “The Walt Disney World organization has been a great partner in this initiative, and their commitment to providing students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, such as Disney’s Dreamers Academy, is commendable,” Harvey said. “Together, we enhanced the lives of these deserving kids by showing them that there are many ways to follow your dreams.”

The weekend’s events were also made possible by the generosity of Kodak. Kodak sponsored the career workshops “Each One, Teach One!” and provided each participant with a Kodak Easyshare digital camera.
“Disney’s Dreamers Academy is an unprecedented initiative that Kodak is thrilled to participate in. By providing these talented dreamers with a deep dive into unconventional creative career paths, we help empower their dreams,” said Essie L. Calhoun, Kodak’s Chief Diversity and Community Affairs Officer, and a Kodak vice president. “Providing the dreamers with Kodak digital cameras encourages them to share their creativity in pictures that will be cherished by friends and loved ones.”

The Disney’s Dreamer Academy was launched in 2007. For more information on the Disney’s Dreamers Academy visit



NOTE TO EDITORS: For photographs and more information about Disney’s Dreamers Academy or Walt Disney World Resort, access the Walt Disney World Public Relations media only Web site at; user name: disney; password: magic.