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NCHS junior inspires other youth at Disney Dreamers Academy

Bradley Ross Jackson, left, rose in the first all African American occupied Grand Marshal car at Disneyland with Halle Bailey, Disney's first Black Mermaid.
Bradley Ross Jackson, left, rode in the first all African American-occupied Grand Marshal car at Disneyland with actress Halle Bailey, Disney's first Black Mermaid.

Disneyland is known as the “Happiest Place on Earth,” and it’s where Bradley Ross Jackson went in search of his dreams.

The Disney Dreamers Academy is a four-day event where 100 students are chosen to receive guidance, tips, skills and motivation to make their own dreams become a reality.

Jackson, a student at Normal Community High School, was one of the 25,000 applicants selected to participate in the program.

Jackson is a National Honor Society junior at NCHS. He is the president of the Illinois NAACP’s Youth and College Division and president of Bloomington-Normal’s NAACP Youth Council. He also is founder of the Bradley Encourages Kindness Campaign (B.E. Kind Campaign).

While at Disneyland, Jackson was given the opportunity to make new friends and be recognized for his community service, including meeting Halle Bailey, singer-songwriter and star of the upcoming live-action film, The Little Mermaid.

“I was a part of history as I was in the first all African American-occupied Grand Marshal car, which was awesome,” Jackson said. “I was able to sit in there with Halle Bailey and Halle also mentioned my name during her speech, which was awesome as well.”

Jackson noted that being able to network with other dreamers was a highlight of the experience, as well as focusing on the four "Cs."

“You can really be curious to learn new things, and then you have to have confidence to speak in front of a crowd,” Jackson said. “You also have to have courage to be bold and to try to be somebody new. You also have to have constancy so you can be consistent with what you’re doing and having everything in line as well.”

His peers voted him as the Most Inspirational Dreamer and he also received the Sprite Leadership Excellence Award.

Jackson encourages his fellow peers to chase their dreams as well.

“I always think of the saying to pay it forward as we all are each other’s keepers, and I think that people my age or younger, they should always just strive for greatness and try to achieve their goals,” Jackson said. “Whatever it is, being a professor, attorney, newscaster, a doctor, etc. I think that all kids should have a chance in this world and really just do a great job with everything and try to exceed their goals as well.”

Jackson said he has several career aspirations — professor, attorney and newscaster — because of his gift for public speaking. He said he's like to do all three if he can.

Megan Spoerlein was a reporting intern at WGLT.