When Disney closed down their theme parks in the U.S. back in March, neither the company nor the public could have imagined just how long that temporary closure would last. As the gates stayed closed for months and Disney Cast Members were left on furlough, many decided to take action and channel their magic to make something great.
Now, two furloughed Disney Cast Members are making their mark on the world by emphasizing diversity in the classroom.
Amid theme park closures and the furloughs of thousands of employees across Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort earlier this year, two Cast Members set a goal to “make a difference through education and representation.”
Based in Florida, Kaylin Bergeson and Maya Brooks founded Diversity the Classroom, a nonprofit organization that provides free diverse books to elementary school classrooms all around the U.S. So, at no cost to them, teachers of kindergarten-through-fifth-grade classes receive books so they can teach their students about diversity and inclusion.
Below is their official mission statement, as found on the Diversify the Classroom website:
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela
Once upon a time, we were all children, born with big dreams for our futures.
We grew up optimistic about who we were going to be, what stories we were going to tell, and how we envisioned our world would be when we were older.
Along with shapes and colors, most of our earliest lessons were about how to be kind and compassionate toward others.
As adults, we realize some lessons about acceptance and tolerance are not taught in every home. While our country grows to be more and more diverse every day – we realize the importance of bringing these lessons to light at a young age.
We believe these teachings need to be introduced at the foundation of our education so when upcoming generations enter adulthood they are able to appreciate, celebrate, and embrace everything that makes us unique.
Our mission is to assist Elementary School teachers with lessons on acceptance and tolerance by donating books to classrooms that demonstrate inclusion and showcase diversity. We are working to make a difference through education and representation that can be carried on through adulthood.
With your monetary donation we will purchase the titles from our book bundles and donate them to Elementary School classrooms. Each classroom will receive a bundle of 9 books that coincide with their grade level.
They may have been furloughed from their positions at The Walt Disney Company, but Kaylin and Maya never stopped making magic and spreading pixie dust in other meaningful ways.
Is a furloughed or former Disney Cast Member making a difference in your community? We’d love to learn more! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.