UC Berkeley college students share the Power of a Princess with Bay Area elementary schools

ByLyanne Melendez, Lia Mimun & Victoria Vallecorse Localish logo
Monday, April 8, 2024
UC Berkeley students share the Power of a Princess
UC Berkeley junior Abigail Corcio volunteers as a Disney princess and storybook character, bringing magic to children across the Bay Area.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- While some college students spend their weekends in the library or out with friends, UC Berkeley junior Abigail Corcio takes a different approach. She volunteers as a Disney princess, bringing magic to children across the Bay Area.

Power of a Princess, a UC Berkeley student organization, gives children the opportunity to meet their favorite movie characters in real life. College students spend hours transforming into iconic characters ranging from Ariel to Superwoman, visiting elementary schools and children's hospitals across the Bay Area.

Abigail Corcio, the organization's president, emphasized that their goal is to provide a lighthearted, entertaining experience to children who may be facing difficult circumstances.

"(Our characters) have gone through situations in their storybooks and overcame it," she explained. "We want to give hope that so can they."

The student volunteers spend most of their time working with underserved communities and critically ill children.

True to their name, Power of a Princess' mission is to empower the children they meet. Although the characters range from 1950s princesses to contemporary superheroes, each volunteer makes a point of emphasizing independence, empathy, and strength to their young audience.

"It's never 'Oh, I'm waiting to see what my prince does for me,'" explained Corcio. "'It's always 'I like to do this with my friends, I like to read books, I like to be myself.'"

Graduating senior Sydney Reyes echoed Corcio's message. Speaking with ABC7 Reporter Lyanne Melendez, the Belle actress said with a smile, "I think that being a princess and being royalty today is standing up for others."

Recognizing that storybook characters are predominantly white, the volunteers work together to reflect the diversity of the Bay Area. This includes showcasing modern characters like Encanto's Mirabel, who reads the class a story in Spanish with the help of her fellow princesses.

"Their faces light up when they see someone that looks like them and they can relate to," said Mirabel actress Amaralyn Ewey. "That maybe can encourage children to be like, 'Well, if she can do it, so can I.'"

After wrapping up their visit to the kindergarten class, Corcio, Reyes, Ewey, and their fellow volunteers were surprised by excited students in the hallways of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School.

First graders on the playground cheered as they saw the princesses pass by, jumping off swing sets and slides to run up to their favorite characters.

Even after this impromptu meet-and-greet, the college students set aside their busy schedules to visit two additional classrooms at the children's request.

At the end of their visit, the princesses left the young students with a poignant reminder: "True beauty comes from a beautiful heart."

To learn more and support Power of a Princess, visit here.