I was invited to cover the Disney Dreamers 2022 event as hosted media on behalf of Black Disney Moms (BDM). All opinions are 100% my own.
I had the great pleasure of catching up with Arriel Biggs, Momager to Mikey Wren, a young entrepreneur and Disney Dreamer from the class of 2022. Arriel is also a member of Black Disney Moms (BDM), so being able to connect with her was extra special. I recently met Arriel and Mikey at the Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) event and was inspired by their stories and how they both live authentically while spreading magic to others.
It is always fun to meet members of the BDM group in real life and see how they are thriving, along with their kids! Not only is Arriel a Momager herself, but she helps other Moms manage and cultivate their young entrepreneurs skills, while giving them resources to achieve their dreams. What started as teaching her son financial literacy turned into a blueprint for a full scale business and nonprofit organization aimed at helping other families reach their goals.
Let’s talk about Mikey!
At just 8 years old, he started Mikey’s Munchies Vending. From an investment that came from selling lemonade, he became the youngest vending machine owner. At the time of DDA, Mikey was only 14 and had done numerous workshops and keynotes, teaching kids about financial literacy and entrepreneurship! Today, he’s a sophomore and 15 years old. He’s a best selling author with over 15k sales on Amazon with two books under his belt, Mikey Learns About Business and Biz is a Wiz. How’d he get into authorship? Well, when he was in 3rd grade he needed some support with reading and writing so Arriel had him journaling. What Mikey wrote about was starting a business, specifically a lemonade stand. And as they say, the rest is history. Arriel asked him if he wanted to write a book and they self published, and he said yes. They were kind to share an autographed copy of Mikey Learns about Business with us, which is absolutely adorable.
From St. Louis to Walt Disney World
The application process for Mikey was pretty straightforward. Arriel saw the link posted in our group and she encouraged Mikey to apply. Like many parents, attending DDA is an experience that you hope your kiddo gets to attend, and a lot of families anxiously await until their teen is eligible. Some apply for years, others are accepted on their first try. Regardless, the whole opportunity is monumental and unforgettable.
In addition to having her son attend DDA, Arriel had two Dreamers from her business program also get invited, which gave Mikey an opportunity to connect with them in real life since they all live in different parts of the US. They were blessed to have a unique support system even before arriving at Walt Disney World (WDW).
DDA isn’t Just for the Kids
If you’re chosen to attend DDA in any capacity (student, chaperone, media, volunteer) be ready to receive and grow. I always love hearing people’s first impressions and reactions about DDA, and Arriel shared that she really didn’t know what to expect, aside from knowing Disney does magic. And, she said it was amazing. We talked about how life-changing it was not only for Mikey, but for her. She was pleasantly surprised and excited to see that the speaker lineup for parent sessions named some powerful, inspiring Black women, including Lisa Nichols. She exuded pure gratitude and shared, “I know Mikey got me in the room, but it was ordained by God for me to be there. I needed everything they spoke to us.”
DDA brings together so many teens and their chaperones from many walks of life, culture, and experiences. It can be intimidating at first, being thrust into a group of strangers with the one seemingly small commonality – you came with a Dreamer. However, one way that Disney brought the chaperones together was through an exercise where they prompted questions about everyone’s backgrounds and experiences. Arriel shared that they had to stand up, without looking around, to answer a question, and then when asked to look around they saw the people in the room with the same experience, it brought them together even though they didn’t think they had anything in common.
Dreams and New Perspectives
During our chat I had the opportunity to see the giving nature of Arriel, which she definitely instilled in her son Mikey. She has truly raised him to be the change. When I asked her what his expectations and plans were goal-wise, and if he was still on the same path as he was before DDA, she shared that he initially talked about going to DDA to bring back resources for his community. He was given an amazing opportunity and he wanted to receive and give it right back through their nonprofit – Young Biz Kidz.
One of the things that we learned with DDA, is that they give the Dreamers and their chaperones an opportunity to assess their current paths and visualize new possibilities. When Mikey, currently a freshman, was accepted to DDA, college was never a serious path considered. Outside of earning a D1 football scholarship, attending DDA opened his eyes to a new perspective. He felt that if he doesn’t make D1 and earn that scholarship, he would just continue focusing on his business. At DDA his eyes were opened to a new perspective on college and he was introduced to HBCUs. He’s now considering an HBCU to continue education on a business or marketing major, and would also like to pursue real estate.
Takeaways for Moms
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Arriel if she could share two things that she took away from this experience, and both of her answers were spot on and insightful. I hope that they inspire and encourage you, as they did, me.
- We have a purpose. As moms, it’s important for us to remember that taking care of ourselves is equally as important as taking care of and growing with our kids.
- Be your authentic self in any room. Come out and show up. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, this is something we want for our kids to, but this DDA experience is about you, too. Don’t worry about the kids, they will be okay. Be sure to take in all the moments.
ABOUT DISNEY DREAMERS ACADEMY:
Established by Walt Disney World in 2008, Disney Dreamers Academy’s mission is to inspire young leaders to dream beyond imagination by providing life-long access to personalized support for the Disney Dreamer, their caregivers and community through insightful content and uplifting experts, mentors and sponsors. Each year, 100 high school students are awarded a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida to experience the immersive and transformational program.