by Ronnie Tyler
Lamar and I are just returning home from the 2011 Disney’s Dreamers Academy (DDA) and I am still overcome with emotion from this experience. This powerful 4 day program was filled with wonderful experiences that were designed to motivate, inspire and prepare the young Dreamers ( 110 teens) to reach even further when making their dreams come true. Additionally, the dreamers were able to interact with successful people from all backgrounds who were able to share their personal experiences with the teens and inspire them.
I know this experience was for the teens, but I must admit that I was inspired too. I was inspired by the teens who were determined to succeed and continued to dream despite the challenges they faced in their everyday lives. And I was inspired by the special guests and celebrities that were there help provide the teens with the tools to succeed by sharing their own stories.
Here are some of the tips that some of the special guests shared with the teens:
#1 – Stick To It – In the opening ceremony, Steve Harvey had the kids (and me) cracking up. However, he really had an awesome testimony to share. He told the kids that he was a poor kid (1 of 5 kids) who grew up in West VA and whose father was a coal miner. At age 9, he dreamed about being on TV. Steve did not realize that dream until he was 38 years old. And now he is on TV, radio, in books”....he’s pretty much everywhere today. But he would not be where he is today if he had quit after every failure or disappointment. Steve told us to start looking at failures as experiences to learn from. You are going to have disappointments and you are going to have people that will discourage you, but STICK TO IT. Use your dreams to keep you motivated.
#2 – Dream on Purpose – Mikki Taylor ““ Beauty Director and Cover Editor, Essence Magazine, stated that we can no longer afford to make wish lists, we must dream on purpose, pragmatically define our dreams and then go about making them happen. That was such a profound statement. Define your dreams and go about making them happen. It’s nice to dream, but then you need to define that dream. Make a plan. Set some goals. Claim it!!! Then you must take action and make some progress towards achieving that dream. Set and position yourself to achieve your dreams.
My husband Lamar is a great example of person that is positioning himself to achieve his dreams. He began working for our company, Tyler New Media, Inc., full-time this year. That is a major accomplishment in itself. But he has not stopped there. He is still defining and working towards his ultimate goal. So shortly after he started working for Tyler New Media, Inc., he was picking out office space. And he does it all of the time, we are driving down the street and he is like: “How about that one.” And I am like: “what?” And he’s like: ”yes, that is the future home of Tyler New Media, Inc.” At first I was like: “You have got to be kidding me.. right? You just started working full-time for Tyler New Media and now you are picking out office space!!!!” But really there is a method to his madness , he is defining”...”... and you can bet your life”... he is already taking action to be in a building. And knowing my husband, it will be sooner rather than later.
#3 – We have no excuses ““ A young man by the name of Zerbin Singelton ,who has a dream of one day becoming an astronaut in the U.S. Space program, came to Disney this week for a couple of reasons. The first is to receive Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award, given to college football’s most inspirational figure. Secondly, he came to the Disney’s Dreamers Academy to inspire the kids. He told us a horrible story of how his mother was on drugs for over 20 years, of how his father (who he did not even meet until his late teens) committed suicide, and of how he had to overcome a serious and life threatening car wreck. Zerbin had a series of family tragedies and a car wreck”....yet he was still able to persevere. Through his unwavering determination, he eventually graduated at the top of his class at the Navel Academy and he is still doing great things. All with that end goal in mind”....to become an astronaut. And some of us don’t have half as much turmoil and strife in our lives and we let those situations get us down. We let those situations define our existence and our futures. And we give up, we don’t dream, and we don’t take action. But after hearing Zerbin’s story, I know that “WE HAVE NO EXCUSES.”
#4 – Any time you get an opportunity, you extend an opportunity for someone else. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Disney, Essence, Steve Harvey and Coca Cola for providing our kids with this opportunity. They are not only teaching our kids to dream, they are teaching them to dream big and they are exposing them to possibilities. Some kids don’t even know what to dream for (beyond having a fancy car with rims) because they don’t even know that certain things are possible. The Disney Dreamer’s Academy is not for privileged kids. The kids that were selected were chosen because they were identified as dreamers and are excelling in-spite of their circumstances.
During the conference, Dr. Steve Perry, Educator, Author, and Motivational speaker, said: “Any time you get an opportunity, you extend an opportunity for someone else.” Simply put, we need to pay it forward. We all need to be actively investing in the lives of our youth by being mentors and by being examples.
#5 - Beware of Dream Killers – D’Wayne Edwards, Footwear Designer Director – Brand Jordan/Nike, shared his amazing journey that led him to be one of the country’s top footwear designers. He started professionally designing shoes at age 19. Along the way, he came across people he called dream killers.
When D’Wayne shared his dream of becoming a footwear designer with his guidance counselor, the counselor told him that no black kid from Englewood, CA could become a footwear designer. A person of authority tried to destroy his dream. Sometimes people of authority will try to destroy your dreams if they have not realized their own dreams or if they simply don’t have any dreams of their own. Thank God, D’Wayne had a mother that encouraged him and thank God D’Wayne was determined to succeed even after being discouraged. And in the words of my husband, thank God D’Wayne designed the Nike boot .
I (ooops..I mean the kids) learned so much from the experience at Disney’s Dreamers Academy. It was life changing experience and it gave me that reminder to keep dreaming and to keep working!
BMWK family there is no age limit on your dreams so let us know what are you still dreaming for?