By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
After spending four days inspiring 100 excited young ones at the 15th Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World in Florida, Destiny’s Child superstar Kelly Rowland joined World Resort Vice President and Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell and Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Public Relations Manager Annette Gibbs in saluting 150 years of the Black Press of America.
“We are so thankful for all your hard work and how you show the world who we are,” exclaimed Rowland, the five-time Grammy winner who formed the groundbreaking female group with Beyoncé Knowles and Michelle Williams.
“We are so thankful for just how incredible you are,” Rowland said of the Black Press of America, which in 2022 celebrates 195 years.
Added Powell, “On [Disney Dreamers Academy] 15th-anniversary milestone, we say congratulations to the Black Press of America.”
Gibbs said she loves the Black Press.
“For 195 years, you’ve been telling the stories of what’s happening in our neighborhoods, our communities, and we are so thankful you were able to come out to the Disney Dreamers Academy,” Gibbs said.
“After being gone for a couple of years, [the academy] was magical, and who was here? The Black Press.”
The exciting graduation ceremony concluded with words of wisdom from Rowland, Powell, and others.
Students performed stepping and an ensemble from Disney’s The Lion King.
Christianna Alexander was among the 100 Dreamers. She started her own beauty business at age 12.
She said she aspires to become the Willy Wonka of soap.
“I’m a 16-year-old navy brat, but I grew up the majority of my life in Jacksonville, Florida,” Christianna noted.
“I enjoy studying science and art at school. My many interests include golfing, swimming, skateboarding, volleyball, painting, and acting. I hope to one day become an actor and continue to run my beauty business, ‘Sweet Christi’s.’”
Darius Brown of Newark, New Jersey, counted among the 100 dreamers.
After Hurricane Harvey, Darius made hundreds of bow ties for displaced dogs to help them get adopted.
He has raised $30,000 for animal shelters.
“I’m a Global Child Prodigy Award recipient, social entrepreneur, shelter pet advocate, and founder of Beaux & Paws, which was approved by former President Barack Obama,” Darius stated.
“I started a business with a purpose, designing bowties for shelter pets to look adorable and help increase their chances of finding a permanent home.”
Darius asserted that he enjoys fencing, basketball, art, acting, and watching movies.
“Walt Disney said, ‘If you can dream it, you can do it.’ My biggest dreams are to have a cartoon or television show on Disney bringing awareness to shelter pets.
“I also want to attend Stanford University, majoring in Business Law so I can provide affordable legal services to people in underserved communities that want to start businesses,” Darius stated.
Kayli Joy Cooper of Studio City, California, also arrived and departed with a bright smile.
Kayli created a nonprofit to provide self-care kits for unprivileged and homeless girls.
She said she dreams of becoming a filmmaker to tell stories about diverse communities.
“I am a high school senior at Wildwood School in Los Angeles, California, with a passion for social justice and a heart for service,” Kayli asserted.
Already, Kayli leads the BIPOC Affinity Group, Cinema Club, and Social Justice Club and serves as a board member of the Homework Café and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Council.
She founded and is the CEO of Girl Well, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“Girl Well aims to make self-care more equitable and accessible by curating and distributing self-care kits that promote self-love,” she remarked.
“I hope to one day become a film director and producer who inspires and uplifts diverse voices.”
From Hazel Green, Alabama, Mackenzie Hill, a 17-year-old high school senior, creates apps and programs to help close the gap of educational inequality.
“I am passionate about public policy reform and using computer science as a medium for social change,” Mackenzie stated.
“Extracurricular activities are a significant component of my life, and I enjoy computer programming, learning foreign languages, conducting research, and mixed media art.”
Mackenzie also serves as a programming instructor with Girls Who Code and Kode with Klossy, where she works to share the power of coding with students everywhere.
“My dream is to major in Computer Science and Linguistics while eventually pursuing a graduate degree in Computational Linguistics,” she concluded.